Mobile County residents have until Friday to submit protests of real property valuations that were sent out last month, which in some areas, increased by tens of thousands of dollars.
Glen Ford, an administrator with the Mobile County Revenue Commission, told Lagniappe the large increase some are seeing is the result of the state “catching up” on property values that likely should have increased gradually over time.“Land values haven’t really increased for years, overall. I’m not saying some people haven’t seen an increase, but certainly, they haven’t increased to the level the state believes they should be at this time,” Ford said. “This isn’t just Mobile County, either. It’s going to happen in all 67 counties because taxes are based on equalization throughout the state.”
According to Ford, most property values in Mobile County should level off by next year, as the state catches up on its equalization efforts. Lagniappe reached out to Derek Coleman, the property tax director for the Alabama Department of Revenue, but has yet to receive a response.
State valuations are based on market value, which is used as a basis for the assessment of property for ad valorem tax purposes. County revenue agents then determine an assessed value based on a ratio set at the state level — 10 percent for residential properties and 20 percent for commercial properties.
For instance, a home with a fair market value of $323,600 would normally be assessed $32,360, while a commercial property with the same market value would be assessed at $64,720.
The final tax bill is then calculated based on the number of property tax mills voters have approved within a respective county and municipality. A mill is one-thousandth of a currency unit, which equates to 10 cents for every $100 of the assessed property value.Millage can vary based upon the location of property, though. In the city of Mobile — state, county and education ad valorem taxes are derived from 56 mills, but an additional 7 mills approved on the municipal level brings Mobile’s total millage rate to 63.
While the values of a property may look large, Ford said the actual difference in the “dollars and cents” on an individual’s tax bill aren’t usually as drastic. As an example, Ford said a “$5,000 (property) increase in the city of Mobile would only cause an increase of about $31” on a person’s final tax bill.
“We haven’t had too many people protest their valuations, surprisingly,” Ford said. “When the evaluation notices went out we were hearing a lot about it, but when people see their actual tax bill from last year to this year, it’s not going to be as drastic as it looks on those valuation notices.”
Residents won’t know exactly what they owe until the Mobile County Revenue Commission compiles that information and sends it out in September.
Still, any Mobile County resident wishing to protest the valuation of their property can do so through the Mobile County Board of Equalization by Friday, Aug. 5. A protest can be submitted by mail as long as it’s postmarked by the Aug. 5 deadline or by fax at 251-574-8591.
Protests should include the required from as well as photos of any interior damage to a property and any appraisal performed in the previous year and any comparable sales from the previous year that support the protest of the valuation.
If protesting the market value of a commercial property, residents should include any income or expense information related to the property, such as rental rolls.