Stephens Co. To Conduct Audit of Cell Tower Property Values

Stephens County will work with an outside agency to audit the value of cellular towers and cellular company equipment in the county.

Last Tuesday, Stephens County Commissioners unanimously approved a contract with Communication Tax Solutions, LLC for the service.

Stephens County Tax Assessor Christen Collier said that the company employs people who used to work for cellular companies and are very well-versed in the value of the towers and the accompanying equipment.

“There is no one in my office that is a cell tower expert,” said Collier.  “I do not know any cell tower experts personally.  When we have a company that makes a return, their statement of value, that they declare to the county each year, we do not know whether they have $500,000 or $1 million worth of equipment.  We just have to go on what they say.”

Collier went on to say that the goal is not to go after anybody, but to simply get it right and make sure the cell towers are valued at their fair and proper value.

“If you have equipment here that is a million dollars, then it ought to be assessed at a million dollars, not $500,000,” said Collier.  “Likewise, if you have something assessed at a million dollars that is (worth) $500,000, it could go the other way around.”

He added that he thinks the company is making a good offer and said that other counties have used this company with positive results.

“(If) the discovery of any new equipment is less than what we paid, the amount we pay will be reduced,” said Collier.  “It sounds like a pretty good deal.  I talked to seven other counties that have dealt with this same company and they were all very pleased with the results they had.  Some of the counties experienced a significant increase in their digest.”

According to Collier, this is not something that would have to be done yearly, but only periodically.

Commissioners’ approval was contingent on approving all necessary documentation and adding language in the contract that states any disputes would be handled in Stephens County Superior Court.