Cellphone towers throughout Bulloch County bring in about $130,000 in revenue each year, Bulloch County Tax Assessor John Scott said.
There are about 60 cellphone towers in the county with a total property value of $15.5 million. But each tower can hold several carriers, which also pay county taxes
Towers are personal property, but the tower owner may lease space on the tower for wireless service providers to locate equipment.
Officials in Augusta recently began looking into cellphone towers and how to monitor revenue issues, but Bulloch County officials are on top of the game when it comes to monitoring the towers and equipment in the county, Scott said. Augusta officials sought Scott’s advice in setting up a program to keep track of cell towers and equipment.
Geographic information systems help keep officials in the know regarding cell towers and their locations, and “visual audits at random” keep track of the equipment attached to those towers by cell companies, he said.
Tower owners and wireless carriers must go through a permitting process to locate a tower or attach equipment to it, thus making it easy to track revenue, Scott said.
The main challenge is to keep up with changing equipment as technology progresses, but even if equipment on a tower becomes “obsolete” in the light of new technology, it still serves its purpose and is taxed, he said.
With the rapid changes technology makes, “It is a constant struggle to see what kind of equipment is placed on towers because our main concern is the value of the equipment,” he said. But, “Major carriers are usually prompt in paying taxes.”
Scott said that despite changes in equipment, cellphone towers have proven to be a steady source of revenue for the county.
GIS and aerial photographs make it easy for county employees to determine the towers’ locations.
“It’s an ongoing process, and we will continue to monitor” cell towers around the county, Scott said.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.