BOA member says board helps ensure fairness in tax process
Madison County assessors opened the floor for questions Monday night at the close of their regular meeting and Bobby Gunnells fired away.
Gunnells wanted to know why the assessor board even exists. He said the board doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose.
“I was just trying to figure out the purpose of this board,” said Gunnells. “I’ve been to a couple of meetings and I haven’t seen anything yet.”
Assessor board member David Ragland explained that the BOA serves property owners by working to ensure fairness in the tax process.
“We’re sitting here as a board as directed by the Department of Revenue to make sure this (tax appraisal) process is fair and equitable,” said Ragland.
Gunnells said the BOA appears to exist simply as a buffer between the county appraisal staff and the county commissioners. He said the BOA doesn’t appear to have any real authority. For instance, he said he was confused about why the board of commissioners and not the board assessors hired chief appraiser James Flynt.
“You guys should have been doing that and yet they (the BOC) did,” said Gunnells. “So who do you answer to? Why the hell do we have this (assessor) board?”
Appraiser Regina Coker said the appraisal staff isn’t really clear on who is ultimately in charge, the assessor board or the BOC.
“We don’t really know who we’re supposed to answer to,” said Coker. “I went to school and I was told I was supposed to answer to them (the board of assessors).”
Board of assessor member Larry Stewart agreed that the arrangement with the BOC doesn’t make sense. He said citizens are puzzled about why the BOC doesn’t give authority of the appraisal staff to the assessor board.
“Part of our problem has been that we don’t have any direct control over employees,” said Stewart. “I don’t think anybody can reasonably expect to be given a crew that’s got to do a job for you and for you not to be given authority to manage that crew. I think that’s unreasonable. … At the end of the day, whoever employs you to do a job is going to come to you and say ‘how come you didn’t get the job done?’ And what are you going to tell them, ‘My employees revolted against me because they don’t work for me’?”
While the issue of authority over appraisal personnel was discussed, the group also talked about district representation on the BOA.
Marion “Hoss” Cartwright told assessor members that he feels that each district in the county should have a member on the assessor board. The BOC appoints members of the board of assessors. As it stands, there are two board members from district five, two from district two and one from district one.
“I think the taxpayers would feel much better if there was somebody from every district,” said Cartwright.
Board members told Cartwright that recruiting people to serve on the assessor board is not easy.
“People usually can’t run away fast enough,” said Stewart about those asked to serve on the board.