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The Tax Assessors Office—Now and Then

The Tax Assessors Office—Now and Then

Almost 4 years ago the TWG was formed.  One of the reasons the TWG was formed was because of the continuous complaints from people about the Tax Assessors office and what went on (or did not go on) in that office.  We will briefly bring to mind some of the problems that existed that the TWG has brought out.

  • No visible work being done, but plenty of visitors in the office talking and laughing
  • Excessive telephone bills.  One employee called her husband almost every work day during working hours—and the taxpayers paid the long distance bills
  • Fines from the State for a deficient digest—several times
  • A Board of Assessors member serving on the board and voting when not certified, which is contrary to State Law.
  • Homestead exemptions being removed from properties that had HSE for years, and HSE never being put on properties that had applied for it (which resulted in people overpaying their property taxes).
  • Tax Assessors staff member being paid for days not worked—while enjoying Jekyll Island, Savannah, etc. at taxpayer’s expense
  • Babysitting in the office on a regular basis

What goes on today? 

  • There are still plenty of visitors and some staff members will hardly give you the time of day, but there are 3 new, additional staff members that seem to stay busy and help you quickly and efficiently.
  • The digest came out VERY late, and the tax bills for 2004 weren’t due until February, 2005. The digest was not deficient, but did come in under 38—even though the taxpayers paid an outside firm to do the re-evaluation of properties.  Several times we’ve heard, “there were some serious problems” and the “firm had no licensed appraisers.”
  • There is now a member on the Board of Assessors that is NOT certified, but has been allowed to sign minutes (of a meeting she didn’t even attend), sit in on the meetings, and draw $75 a meeting even though she can not vote.  By law, she shouldn’t even be “serving” on the board and certainly shouldn’t be getting paid.  At this time, that member is no different than a citizen that attends the meeting.  We’re anxious to see how many times the taxpayers will pick up the bill for classes and tests and how many times we’ll pay her to sit in meetings.
  • Since there are 4 members of the Board of Assessors, 3 certified and qualified to serve, and 1 that is not, we ask— how many members make a quorum?  Two or three?  We question this because two members of the Board of Assessors met recently in a meeting.  Was this an illegal meeting on the part of the Board of Assessors?

 

SPECIAL BONUS FOR WHAT?

We already have questioned the bonus given to the Chief Appraiser.  His contract says he would be paid a $5,000 bonus if the digest came in at 38.  The digest did not come in at 38—not until the Board of Education filed an appeal and traveled to the Dept of Audits to plead their case.  We’ve been told that during that meeting, staff from the DOA said the Tax Assessors office did not file an appeal even after receiving 2 letters telling them they could do so.  (Sources tell us this is why the Board of Education filed the appeal.)  The bonus was paid to the Chief Appraiser anyway.  We continue to question why this was done when the stipulations of the contract were not met.

 

WHERE’S THE BOSS?

We also know that there is a great waste of time in the Tax Assessors office that is not being addressed.  Unfortunately, one of the biggest offenders is the man in charge of the office, the Chief Appraiser.  Late last week, Mr. Chief wasn’t in his office around 11:00am.  But after peeking around the corner, you could see him in the break room—he had cut a watermelon and was busy eating it.  He was enjoying himself while people with business to conduct in the Tax Assessors office were looking for him.  We suggest if you need to conduct business in the Tax Assessors office, and you need to speak with the Chief Appraiser, have plenty of time to do it.  Getting your property assessment corrected or explained is done at the convenience of the Chief. You might be able to eat watermelon and enjoy some guitar music while trying to figure out your property assessment,  but only if you plan to spend the day!
 

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