Tax Bills Shoot Up

Penny Tax
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Increases in property tax bills in Lauderdale County are not necessarily minor changes. Thirty to 40 percent is not uncommon, some even higher.

Board of Supervisors president Craig Hitt acknowledged there have been complaints.

"I've had several calls since we started receiving the bills this week," said Hitt.

Hitt suggested taxpayers check for possible errors.

"If you have a tremendous increase we need to make sure there were not some mistakes made in the reappraisal process," Hitt said. "Obviously, there's always a chance of there being a mistake and if you have a large increase you need to call the tax assessor's office and ask them to check your appraisal and make sure there has not been a mistake made."

Tax collector Stanley Shannon's phone has also been ringing.

"We've gotten numerous complaints and questions as to why they went up the amount they did," the tax collector said.

Shannon says he is sympathetic.

"We try to collect their taxes with compassion and we try to get that across to them and we listen to them and we try to help them understand that a lot of times we refer to their taxes as a necessary evil," said Shannon.

Shannon says he has already seen the impact of these increases.

"We've had them leave our office in tears because it went up to the extent where they feel like they're going to have a difficult problem paying it," said Shannon. "For instance, it might be $1100 and it go to $1700 and people with fixed incomes, it's a burden on those people and it's a problem."

All officials point out the tax bills cover city, county and school taxes and that reappraisal was mandated by the state legislature. Local government did not have any option but to do it.