We, The Taxpayers v. Bd. of Tax Assessors Effingham Cty.Annotate this Case
We, the Taxpayers, an unincorporated association of individual taxpayer residents of Effingham County ("Taxpayers"), appealed the trial court's order dismissing Taxpayers's complaint against the Board of Tax Assessors of Effingham County ("Board"). In a separate case, the Board appealed the superior court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. Former OCGA 48-5B-1 became law in 2009, and was effective until January 2011. It placed a moratorium on increases in the assessed value of property subject to ad valorem taxation for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2009, and continuing through January 9, 2011, but provided an exception from the moratorium for any county which performed or had performed on its behalf a comprehensive county-wide revaluation of all properties in the county in 2008 or any county which in 2009 was under contract prior to February 28, 2009, to have performed on its behalf a comprehensive county-wide revaluation of all properties in the county. The Board, believing that Effingham County met the exception set forth in former OCGA 48-5B-1 (c), did not impose a moratorium on increases in assessed values in the 2009 tax year, but in fact, increased assessed values of certain property. Taxpayers, believing that the exception did not apply and that the moratorium should have been imposed, filed a complaint under OCGA 48-5-296 seeking the removal of Board members. Taxpayers amended the complaint to include the equitable relief of eliminating the 2009 assessed values and imposing instead the 2008 tax year figures; by later amendment, Taxpayers dropped the request to remove Board members, and added a request for a writ
of mandamus to compel the Board to act in accordance with Taxpayers's interpretation of OCGA 48-5B-1. Taxpayers moved for summary judgment, contending that the undisputed evidence showed that the exception to the moratorium did not apply; the Board also moved for summary judgment, asserting that OCGA 48-5B-1 was unconstitutional, and, alternatively, that the undisputed facts showed that the statutory exception applied. The trial court denied both motions. The Board then filed its motion to dismiss, asserting that the Taxpayers property owners were obligated to appeal their 2009 ad valorem assessments to the county Board of Equalization, or otherwise in the manner set forth in OCGA 48-5-311, and that the failure to do so precluded the trial court's addressing the equitable and mandamus claims. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in denying Taxpayers's motion, and vacated the court's decision denying the Board's motion.