Property owners to get assessments next year

LAWRENCEVILLE -- All Gwinnett property owners will receive a property assessment notice next year, according to a new state law.

The law will mean $1.2 million worth of extra work for the tax assessor's office, and a longer appeals process to allow for an expected glut.

In addition, tax bills are likely to come out in September, instead of the usual July billing, with a single due date in November.

Finance Director Aaron Bovos said the process presents a potential cash flow problem for governments, especially the school system. So officials are working out a proposed 2012 billing process that would include a bill early in the year equal to half of the previous year's taxes and a final bill later in the year, after the county's millage rate is set.

Another big issue, Bovos said, is that officials are budgeting for the government in January but won't know what revenues to expect until appeals are settled and the tax digest is complete in August.

"I'll have no idea about revenues until September," he said.

Chief Appraiser Steve Pruitt said too many factors weigh in to accurately project how the new provisions could affect the tax digest, which dipped in 2010 to $26.6 billion. Since any land purchases in 2010 will be assessed at the purchase price, even if they are bought through bank sales, there could be a hit even bigger than officials originally expected due the commercial land values dropping.

"This is going to be so jumbled up, and the form is so different than what we've used in the past. It's going to be very confusing," Pruitt said, adding that the new law makes tax returns optional to have a home reassessed, since all properties will be reassessed.