Friday, January 8, 2016

State representative files bill to cap property assessments

Property tax assessments in Georgia could be capped to increase by no more than 7.5 percent over any three-year period and no more than 2.5 percent in one year if House Resolution 965 passes during the upcoming legislative session. Rep. Brad Raffensperger’s (R-Johns Creek) bill would create a proposed constitutional amendment to be voted on statewide. An assessment cap has also been supported by Sen. Fran Millar (R-DeKalb) who has been influential in property assessment legislation in the General Assembly. Under HR 965, voters would have to approve a local assessment cap referendum as well in order for the cap to take effect locally. If the property is sold, transferred, or the owner has major work done on the property, there is no cap and the property is assessed on the basis of its fair market value. The proposal resembles California’s Proposition 13 which locked in property values at their value in 1978 while allowing for growth in inflation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tax Commissioner Claudia Lawson retires; Irvin Johnson steps up

DeKalb County tax commissioner Claudia Lawson has retired. The Champion has a good write-up on her career:
A Florida native who earned her bachelor’s degree at Florida State University, Lawson moved to Georgia in 1977 when her husband’s job transferred him to metro Atlanta.
Lawson, who will retire Dec. 31, began her career with DeKalb County in 1979, working in the vehicle registrations division and as deputy tax commissioner and chief deputy tax commissioner before becoming the county’s first female and Black tax commissioner in 2006.
Under her leadership, the county’s tax office became the first in the state to have implement an imaging system for property tax and motor vehicle records, and computer storage for permanent records.
Commissioners had much praise for Lawson.
“You have always been so available to everyone, not just to the commissioners, but the public as well,” said Commissioner Kathie Gannon.
Gannon said Lawson, who replaced long-serving Tax Commissioner Tom Scott after his death, “took over a position with some pretty big shoes to fill and made those shoes even bigger for the next person that comes along.”
Commissioner Mereda Johnson said Lawson is her “friend who is not only good at her job, but…she’s a good-hearted person and I think that we all can learn from her.”
“She is my shero and I’m going to miss her and I hope that her successor has learned a lot from her. I love you, Claudia, and I’m going to miss you,” Johnson said.
“You can’t say enough good things about Claudia and her wisdom,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. “I found myself talking to her a lot. She’s always there for you with kind words, with sage advice and she just tells it like it is.
“Thank you for being you, Claudia,” Sutton said.
Commissioner Jeff Rader said the difficulty of being a commissioner “is nothing compared to the job of a tax commissioner because it has been Mrs. Lawson’s job…to separate people from their tax obligation with a smile on her face. And she succeeded in doing that.”
Additionally, Lawson “has had the success of being able to collect almost 100 percent of the taxes that are owed to the county and to not engage in some of the practices that have become popular of selling liens and disrupting peoples’ lives in that way,” Rader said...

The new tax commissioner is Irvin Johnson.  According to the tax commissioner's website:
Irvin Johnson succeeded Claudia G. Lawson as Tax Commissioner upon her retirement on December 31st, 2015. Irvin has been serving DeKalb County residents in the Tax Commissioner’s office since July 2000. Most recently he has held the positions of Branch Manager, Brookhaven office, and Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner. A native of Augusta, he holds a B.A. degree in Liberal Arts and Masters of Education from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Prior to starting his career in the Tax Commissioner’s office, Irvin was a Computer Consultant and Manufacturing Supervisor. In his role as Quality Manager, he led a successful effort to implement quality systems and process controls within the facility that achieved ISO 9001/2 certification.

Although the DeKalb tax office is separate from Decatur's tax office, we rely on DeKalb for many aspects of taxation and revenues including property assessments and certain tax transfers.  We appreciate the work that Ms. Lawson has done and we wish her the best in retirement.  We also congratulate Mr. Johnson on his new role!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Property tax grace period ends Jan. 7

If you still haven't paid your property taxes for the second installment of 2015 for Decatur, Georgia, please make your check payable to City of Decatur and mail to:

PO BOX 945650
ATLANTA, GA 30394-5650

We will honor postmarks up until January 7 without charging penalties or interest.  Do not overnight your payment to the lockbox address because it is a post office box.