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If you own a boat, be glad you live in Jasper County

Did you know that there are 1,522 boats in Jasper County registered with the DNR?

Do you know how many are on the tax digest (personal property) in Jasper County?

Before you guess, please keep in mind that a boat or a combination of boat(s), jet ski(s), boat motors, etc. have to be valued at $7500 or more to be taxable.  If you have a little John Boat, it may only be worth $1000.  It wouldn’t be taxable, but it should still be on the tax digest as exempt.  But if you have a John Boat, a jet ski and a motorboat, and the value of all of them together is over $7500, then they are all taxable. Any guesses how many are shown on our tax digest? 

 

Jasper County only showed 27 boats that were taxable in 2003 and only showed 129 in 2004.  That leads us to believe “somethin’ ain’t right”.  One of the tax assessors started looking into the situation.  There is one person in the office in charge of “personal property.” That person is responsible for seeing that boats, airplanes, furniture and fixtures of business, and other types of personal property are on the tax rolls.  It has become clear that someone wasn’t doing their job or didn’t know how, and the supervisor (the Chief Appraiser) wasn’t doing too well at overseeing what was/is going on either.  The Chief Appraiser and the Chairman of the BOA certify the tax digest as being correct.  Obviously, it isn’t and it hasn’t been.

 

Over the past 3 years, the county and schools have lost approximately $175,000 in tax revenue from “missing boats.”  This year alone, the loss of tax revenue would be around $52,000.  So what has happened?  Two of the three certified assessors resigned rather than take action.

 

From documentation we’ve seen, even the State Field Rep seems to be getting involved.  That is very concerning to the TWG.  Several years ago when BOA members were hanging out in the office and charging the county by the hour and members were serving without being certified, the State told us that “it was a local matter” and they couldn’t do anything.  Now all of a sudden, it looks like the Field Rep is interested and even trying to make excuses for what has been going on in the Tax Assessors office.  Maybe he feels a little guilty—shouldn’t the people at the State realize something was wrong with the digest that they approve?  Jasper County is situated on a large lake with plenty of boats.  Wouldn’t it have been questionable to someone at the State that only 129 boats were on the digest?  Could it be that Mr. Field Rep is trying to cover his own lack of oversight?

 

Nothing ever seems to be done about the problems in the Tax Assessors office.  Who is responsible for hiring and firing in that office?  That always seems to be the Catch 22.  The BOA says the BOC can’t be involved; yet the BOA can’t seem to accomplish the removal of employees not doing their jobs.

 

The BOC also needs to appoint people that can and will do the job instead of friends and political appointees.  For example, one of the recent appointees never showed up for a meeting and never attempted to take the required course.  It is our understanding that this appointee has resigned, but it has never been brought up at a BOC meeting about the resignations. Another appointee went to class for 5 days while the taxpayers paid for lodging, meals, and class time at an hourly rate.  After failing the test, this appointee still wanted to sit in on the meetings and be paid $75 for each meeting.  When this appointee found out the pay was only for certified assessors, she no longer showed up to attend the meetings.  It was obvious the pay was the most important thing, not the job and not learning the job. 

 

This appointee has since taken the test again—a one day test in Hapeville, where she decided to spend the night in a hotel at taxpayers expense to the tune of` $167 for the room as well as mileage, hourly pay, and the cost of the test.  These types of expenditures are a waste of taxpayer’s money.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—taxpayers shouldn’t pick up the tab more than ONCE for the same class, test, etc.  After that the person needs to pay for the course and/or test.

 

Does the lack of supervision in the office continue?  There are a some people in the office that spend time out of the office visiting others in the courthouse.  One employee recently signed up for a week of classes ($900+ cost to the County).  This person didn’t go, but was seen instead at the courthouse that week spending a lot of time in another office visiting.  (The Chief Appraiser was also out of the office on leave during that week.) The county also paid for 5 nights for a hotel room in Athens so this person could attend the class.  We will continue to watch and see if the county is reimbursed for these expenses.  The employees are not responsible for any of these costs when they back out of the classes; as usual the taxpayers are the ones stuck with the bill.

 

The county is now without a Board of Assessors.  The Commissioners are looking for people to serve.  Only people that are willing to do something about the problems in that office should be appointed.  Jasper County’s Assessors office is well known in the State, and not for good things.  Again, who is responsible for the personnel in this office?  The BOC or the BOA?  What happens when there is no BOA?

 

WHAT IS THE JOB OF THE ASSESSOR BOARD?

  • The BOA is to staff and support the assessors’ office and work to accurately manage the timely update and maintenance of fair market values of all land parcels and personal property in the County.
  • The objective is to follow Georgia law in assessing/valuing all tangible property at the correct level of value and to value all tangible property at uniformity of value.
  • The BOA office is to produce a tax digest that is within the required acceptable ranges for uniformity set by the State.
  • The BOA hears appeals of those taxpayers who question the value and/or uniformity of their property.

 

What must one do to become an Assessor and Serve?

  • must be 21 years of age or older
  • must be a resident of the county (within 6 months of taking oath)
  • must have a high school diploma or its equivalent
  • must complete an assessor examination and a 40 hour approved appraisal course before being able to serve
  • may substitute the 40 hour course and examination if one has at least one year of experience in appraisal-related work
  • must complete 40 hours of approved appraisal courses during each two years of ones tenure as a member of the BOA
  • must not be related to any member of the county governing authority (BOC)
  • if appointed, takes the 40 hour course, passes the examination, takes the oath of office, and is eligible to serve, the term will be for not more than 6 nor less than 3 years (Jasper County has had 3 year terms recently)

 

If you think you’re up to the challenges of being an Assessor, please contact the BOC office.

 

TWG

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