The board of commissioners continue to express their frustration at having annual property tax bills go out late again for 2008.
The 2008 bills are not expected to hit taxpayer mailboxes until sometime in January.
“My biggest concern is the tax situation,” District 1 commissioner Stanley Thomas said at a called meeting Saturday to discuss plans for 2009. “I’m at the end of my rope about this. There’s no reason we shouldn’t get tax bills out on time or at least by the end of the year.”
Thomas stated that 2000 was the last time tax bills got out on time.
He said the board of assessors, who are appointed by the BOC, should get in the mindset of “getting the tax digest out,” rather than worrying about whether they, or the BOC, are in charge of the assessors’ office.
But Thomas added that, likewise, the BOC should keep their commitments to the board of assessors, like bringing the county mapping system up to date.
To that end, the BOC voted Monday night to spend $25,000 in funds allocated in the 2008 budget on the mapping system.
“As far as the tax assessors go, there seems to be a consensus (among officials) on how that office should be operated,” Dove said. “There’s suppose to be a firewall between the BOC, the chief appraiser and staff — and that is the board of assessors.”
But Thomas said he doesn’t feel the BOC has held the assessor board back on getting the digest finished on time.
“We don’t try to control the BOA,” Scogin agreed. “There seems to be some internal issue that they (BOA/tax assessors’ office) can’t get beyond and it’s been that way forever … but it’s all of our problem and we’ve got to work on it together.”
“It’s not been the same chief appraiser, or the same board or the same staff even over these years (of controversy),” Thomas said.
“But there’s also been outside interference with the board of commissioners and the board of assessors (over these years) too,” Pethel said. “The chief appraiser’s been getting advice on what to do and what not to do.”
“That should be over now,” Pethel added.
County clerk Linda Cox questioned commissioners on the state department of revenue’s recent review of the tax assessors’ office.
“I read that DOR report, it seems that there are some things the BOA has done or not done that I interpreted as almost criminal,” Cox said. “Isn’t there some way to make them follow the rules and regulations required by the DOR?”
The recent review, which was done at the request of the assessor board, was critical of the county’s “appraisal methods, procedures and administration of the property tax program.”
County attorney Mike Pruett said that the commissioners appoint assessor board members and that they can be removed “for cause.” And he said that the one thing clear in law is that they can be removed for not getting the tax digest out.”
“Do they need to know that … does it need to be put to them in black and white?” District 4 commissioner-elect Pete Bond asked. “Should we say, ‘if you don’t do it (get digest out on time), you might be out?”
“I agree,” District 3 commissioner Mike Youngblood said, adding that BOA should know there are “measures in place to take care of it if you don’t.”
While the BOC expressed some of their frustrations, it seems things also remain rocky between some assessor board members themselves.
BOA member Jim Escoe appeared before county commissioners during their regular business meeting Monday night to talk about the “removal of (fellow) board members,” but he didn’t get very far when county attorney Pruett pointed out the three-minute time limit for Escoe to state his case.
Chairman Wesley Nash then told Escoe he had two and a half minutes left, according to BOC time limit rules.
“… Your rules suck,” Escoe replied. “You can’t do anything in two and a half minutes.”
Escoe had began his statement to commissioners before that point by saying he was there to express his opinion as a citizen and not as an assessor board member, that the information he had was in county records and that he was in “no way accusing anyone of outright stealing.”
The chief appraiser is YOUR employee commissioner Thomas. You hired him, he is under contract to you, YOU are responsible for not getting the tax bills out on time!!!!!! If you will let the BOA do their job and quit meddling in their business maybe they could get their job done. As for you Mr. Bond I do believe that the members of the BOA can read and do not need to have things put in black and white as you state!!!! How condesending can you get!!! Back off give them some authority and then if they don't deliver, then you can gripe all you want.
He actually said this in a public meeting? And this person is still serving on the Board? He should have been removed immediately. What kind of person says that when giving a presentation to a governmental body?