By Rupert Howell
Panola County ad valorem taxable property increased $12,874,571 with approximately seven million of that coming in new property and the other five million coming from the state mandated “update” recently completed according to Bill Bryant, ad valorem tax consultant for Panola County.
Bryant said the updated increase of property value was kept to an approximate five percent increase by using actual sales figures from late 2008 and early 2009 rather than those sales occurring in late 2007 and early 2008. Using the latter may have increased values as much as 25 percent Bryant said.
“At one time we were 20 percent below market,” Bryant said explaining that the actual market value of property is “key to everything” when equalizing or assessing property tax.
“You pretty much have to be 100 percent,” Bryant stated.
The value of actual property sales excluding purchases and sales to family are compared against the existing appraised value to determine the accuracy of the figures.
Had the update occurred before the economy soured in 2008, the millage may have decreased but values would have been inflated after the economy’s downturn.
School millage is capped at 55 and homestead exemption for those over 65 is capped at $75,000 of appraised value and would have created a new set of problems with inflated values.
Panola County’s new appraised property value is $277,675,631 according to Bryant who noted that $48,808,518 of that was the local power plant that pays set fees instead of taxes.
Although not broken down by district, property assessed for school in Panola County totaled $228,867,113. Of that $8,040,844 is exempted by industry and pays only the schools’ portion of ad valorem tax.
“The only real negative is a few more people who have been totally exempt (over 65 homestead exemption taxes on property appraised at $75,000 or less) that will now have to pay a few taxes,” Bryant said.