News 5 Investigates: Why Property Values Will Skyrocket For Some Mobilians

At Cafe 219, Owner Todd Henson expects his property value and taxes to fluctuate every year, but it’s never  been anything unreasonable until we showed him what he can expect for fiscal year 2016.

“Triple? Wow!” Henson said in disbelief as we pulled up his property value listed on the Mobile County Revenue Commissioner website.

His fair market value had tripled for 2016 which means he’ll be hit with higher property taxes than he ever anticipated, and he’s not the only one.

We pulled up the records for several different businesses and found some had doubled, tripled even quadrupled in value, but Revenue Commissioner Kim Hastie says don’t panic just yet when you see that number.
“Do your homework. Look and see what the property value is of the people around you. See what the comps are,” Hastie said. All of those things factor into how much you’ll pay in property taxes, but they don’t explain just why those values skyrocketed for some properties around town this year.

Hastie, who’s in her first year as Revenue Commissioner, said the reason behind the sudden spike may have been building for years.

“Our office has to turn in a final settlement to the state. The state, quite frankly, should not have accepted that and then it would have been more reflective over the years, instead of all at one time. I’m not trying to say the state didn’t do its job or anybody didn’t do their job, however, that’s what’s happening. Do I feel like it should have gone up this much in one year? No, I do not. Do I think it’s unfortunate? Yes, I do,” Hastie said.

Elizabeth Stevens at the Downtown Alliance said she noticed over the years that properties were selling for much more money than they were being  appraised for.

“We had noticed a very dramatic widening gap between the fair market value that the revenue commissioner was applying and the sales price,” Stevens said. “In the recent years, sometimes it was even a third of what the property sold for ,which is a pretty dramatic change.”

Stevens compared the prices that properties sold for in fiscal year 2015 to their appraisals for 2016 and found they were more in line.  She said it will be a huge hurdle for property owners this year, but hopes it will even out after that.

The property value letters will be mailed out on July 6th and you have until August 5th to file an appeal with the state Board of Equalization.

Hastie said she encourages everyone who is shocked by their appraisals to file an appeal.

You can look up your fair market property value HERE. 

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