Property Taxes

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Property taxes are due at the end of next month.

This is the first year for two Wiregrass counties to participate in annual appraisals, and some property owners believe they're paying more.

But that's not the whole story. Houston County residents have been there and done that.

The county was one of only 10 in Alabama to begin annual appraisals last year, and it turns out there's nothing to be afraid of.

Alabama's annual re-appraisal law has been the subject of debate for quite some time.

And as elections draw closer, the issue is becoming more of a "hot" topic.

Gov. Bob Riley says, "State law says that you have to appraise every year. When I first went into office, the Revenue Commissioner came to me and said, 'Governor, this is what the law says.' I said, 'If the law says it, then we're going to obey the law'."

Since then, the state's 10 largest counties, including Houston County, started appraising property annually.

So instead of having a big tax hike every four years, there is a small increase each year.

And it has not been a hard adjustment for property owners.

Houston County Revenue Commissioner, Starla Matthews says, "We're a growing county, so we are going to see increases. But I think anytime an appraisal's done fairly, everyone likes it when the value of their property goes up."

By doing the state-required appraisals, Houston County is expecting to generate $1 million more in property tax revenue than last year.

Most of the money goes toward the county school system, and only about 12 percent goes back to the state's budget.

Geneva and Barbour are the wiregrass counties that are starting the annual appraisals this year.

All of Alabama’s 67 counties are expected to have yearly property appraisals in place by 2008.

Property taxes are due Dec. 31. For questions or concerns about Houston County’s taxes, call the Revenue Commission at 677-4747.