Homeowners may see property tax assessment decrease

LAWRENCEVILLE - For the first time in years, Gwinnettians don't have to dread opening the mail this weekend, as tax assessment notices begin to come in.

After decades of property value increases, the good news in the bad economy is taxable value has decreased an average of 11 percent, or $25,000, according to information from the tax assessors office.

That may be bad news if you are trying to sell a house, and for the county government officials still trying to meet payroll for police officers and firefighters. The 68,000 notices issued Friday equal a $1.5 billion decrease in market value, a release said.

"The appraisal staff has been working diligently to review all sales to select the best course of action to take on every neighborhood, area or property type," Chief Appraiser Steve Pruitt said in the release. "We have considered foreclosures and bank sales in the 2009 valuation process. We have reviewed the market transactions in all of the county's 1,400 neighborhoods and have made changes where indicated. Most property owners receiving notices will see value decreases for 2009."

While appeals were common as property assessments were going up, they may also be common as the values go down, since 12,000 homeowners requested tax returns this year, seeking an average of a 25 percent reduction. Pruitt said about 45 percent of the returns filed were in neighborhoods that were already being adjusted downward for 2009.

Appeals must be filed within 30 days of the date on the notice.

Friday's mailings were the first of three planned by the assessor's office. In all, about 75,000 notices will be sent, including a small number of assessments for new construction.

For more information about the process, contact the Tax Assessor's Office at 770-822-7200 or at assessor@gwinnettcounty.com.