Walker County property taxes were discussed on Aug. 31 during the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group meeting in Rossville.

Tax Commissioner Carolyn Walker discussed property tax collections, covering the past 16-and-half years and using a visual presentation, during the meeting at Mission Glen Baptist Church.

"A lot of people, I think, have a misunderstanding about some of the things that we have done and (have) going on," Walker said.

There are many questions regarding exemptions, she said.

Walker said exemptions are available.

"Each individual county in Georgia sets their own local exemptions. We have some that are set by the state...but then each county has their own and most of them are based on age and income. So when we ask you to come see us when you get to be 62, 65, 70 and 75, we are not wanting to just keep up with your ages. We have no other way — if you don't come in — to know you have reached that magic birthday. But we do need to see your income taxes you should file also, because there are income requirements on the senior exemptions," Walker said.

Walker said a property tax sale will take place on Oct. 3.

"We started working — getting ready for that sale — in May of this year. It takes that long to get ready for a sale," Walker said.

Walker said there are about 160 properties left for sale, which are listed on the county website.

Walker said, as of Aug. 31, those properties will be listed in the Walker County Messenger. The properties will be advertised for four weeks prior to the sale on Oct. 3.

"Most of these (delinquent property owners) are people we can't find. They haven't responded. We haven't heard anything from them. Some of them are dead," she said.

Walker then introduce Richard Baxter, who helps her with the property tax collections. Baxter owns Appalachian Mountain Services Company.

Baxter said his company tries to contact the delinquent taxes from the property owners.

If there is no response, the property tax owner is sent a letter giving them 20 days to pay. If they do not, the property is posted and is eventually sold.

This service, Baxter said, doesn't come at a cost to taxpayers. The only thing the county has to pay for is legal advertising.

Since 2002, there have been $384,596,016 total taxes billed to property owners, Baxter said. After that, penalties and requirements from the state are added to the bill.

"The bulk of the people pay there taxes when they're supposed to and the way they are supposed to," Baxter said as he revealed that 95.55 percent of the taxes in the county have been paid.

Baxter said Walker County's policy is that a delinquent property will not be sold for one year.

Since 2001, the tax office has collected $424,571,072.64 in taxes, Baxter said.

"Of the taxes billed, Carolyn's office has collected 111.65 percent," Baxter said.

As for mobile homes from 2003 to 2017, the total bill was $9,964,413. What has not been paid thus far is about 4 percent, which is $433,401, Baxter said.

Baxter said mobile homes are a depreciating asset that deteriorates unlike a normal home and they change location.

Walker said in February 2017, the county billed 2,871 mobile homes. The final day to pay was on April 1.

"When I did this, there was only 786 out of the 2,871 that haven't paid. That was 27 percent, but the majority of the bigger bills were paid," she said.

"Some little old lady living on social security and doesn't have the money to pay her taxes, I'm not going to sell her property," Baxter said.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.