By John Schaffner

Business owners in Buckhead are being socked with tax increases that are double the 44 percent median countywide increase resulting from the recent revaluation of commercial properties in Fulton County.

Sam Massell, the president of the Buckhead Coalition, said the reality of higher tax rates, combined with dramatically higher property values, has Buckhead business owners anxious and angry.

The result is that many of those who recently received revaluation notices have already filed appeals.

Burt Manning, the chief appraiser for the Fulton County Board of Assessors, told a group of Perimeter business owners June 9 that he expected there to be 6,000 to 8,000 appeals from the 19,000 revaluation notices that have been sent to commercial property owners throughout the county — two to three times the number of appeals from the previous year.

Within a week, that estimate proved to be low, as 8,370 commercial property appeals had been filed with Manning’s office — nearly half the commercial property owners who received notices — and 4,000 residential property owners also appealed. The dollar value of those under appeal totals $18.5 billion.

In order to be able to collect partial payment on the revalued taxes, Fulton County is asking a judge to approve a temporary collection order. Such an order would allow the county to collect 85 percent of the 2008 appraised value on those properties that are under appeal.

“Everybody with a real high value appealed,” Manning said. He expects more appeals that will take longer to resolve. “I also anticipate we will have more appeals that will make it through to court.”

Speaking to the June 9 Bagels & Business meeting of the Sandy Springs-Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, Manning explained that the problem is that many of the commercial properties had not been reappraised in 16 to 17 years, and the present appraisals are resulting in significant tax increases.

He said some 85 percent of the commercial property owners are experiencing tax increases.

In response to a question, Manning said traditionally approximately 25 percent of those who file appeals get some degree of relief.

Manning pointed out that his operation does not collect taxes or set the millage rates. The Board of Assessors simply appraises and establishes the value of all taxable properties in Fulton County — residential, commercial and business personal property.

He pointed out the county has a new photo imaging system for properties that provides oblique images of buildings and helps both parties in appeals.

Manning said the county hired a company to research the properties, and that company spent 20 months and came back with 100 percent value of the properties. He said the county actually is working at 95 percent of value.

He said the three approaches used to determine the true market value are a replacement value approach, income approach to value and sales comparisons.

He told the group the good and bad news is that the properties will be reappraised again Jan. 1.