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Big crowd expected at Aiken Co. property reassessment meeting

Property taxes

Some homeowners in Aiken County will be paying more in property taxes. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 28, 2011)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011

AIKEN, S.C. -- It's a sticky situation Jenna Page Thompson knew was coming.

"I know I have testified before the city council and the county council over these concerns for the last couple of years," she told News 12.

Now, some homeowners in Aiken County will be paying more in property taxes.

"I've seen it all over the county. It's not just a specific area that's being impacted," Thompson said.

It's all part of a state mandate to reassess property values every five years, but what's confusing people this time is how many property values have gone up in a struggling housing market and what criteria they used to assess the properties.

"I think the criteria is a little bit obscure, and it's not available online, and it's difficult for people to figure out why their fair market value of their house increased maybe 100 or 200 percent," Thompson said.

She said things like home expansions increase value but also things you can't control do, too. When new million-dollar houses are built near more modest homes, it increases the fair market value of the modest home too, and higher property taxes could result.

"That's why people like myself and other realtors are out trying to help clients reassess and appeal," she said.

"Mine went up. I'm not happy about that," said Chairman of the Aiken County Council Ronnie Young.

He says he may opt for an appeal, too.

"My home -- I cannot sell it for what it's assessed at right now," he said.

He may be taxed more for a home he won't be able to sell for the increased price.

"I'll tell everyone, assessment is no more than someone's opinion on what your property is worth," he said.

He says the issue will be debated by his council soon, but as for now, a public hearing this Tuesday could solve some of the confusion.

That public hearing will be at 6:30 p.m.Tuesday at the Aiken Electric Cooperative at 2790 Wagener Road in Aiken. Young said beforehand, starting at 1:00 p.m. up until the meeting, they'll have county assessors to talk one-on-one. He thinks they'll be able to solve a lot of the homeowners' individual problems.

Young said the county isn't doing this to simply bring in more tax dollars. They're just following a state mandate.

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