Madison County commissioners will wait for the completion of a state review of county appraisal practices before deciding on whether to give the board of assessors (BOA) hiring and firing authority of the county appraisal staff.
Three of four current BOA members say that since the assessor board is in charge of county assessments, they need to have complete authority over the appraisal staff.
But county commissioner Bruce Scogin said he favors leaving the arrangement as it is, with the BOA making personnel recommendations to the commissioners. Scogin noted that the assessor board agreed in recent years to put the appraisal staff under the county personnel policy, a move that gives those employees protections afforded to other county employees.
“I’m not uncomfortable with this (current arrangement),” he said, adding that the authority issue has been hashed out in recent years between the two boards. “We fought this a long time ago. … Has anyone asked the (appraisal) staff what they want? Mr. (James) Flynt?”
Board of assessor member Larry Stewart said there is “no impending doom” for anyone on the appraisal staff.
“We’re just trying to put this back to where we felt things belonged,” said Stewart, who noted that assessor boards in numerous other Georgia counties have hiring and firing authority over appraisal staffs.
The BOA recently agreed to seek a review of county appraisal practices by the Department of Revenue. The board will soon send a letter to the DOR requesting that review. County commissioners agreed Monday to postpone any official action on the authority matter until the DOR has an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.
In other business Monday, the BOC agreed to seek an opinion from the state Attorney General on proper compensation for the county coroner, whether that pay should be salary-based, fee-based or a combination of the two.
YOUNG HARRIS ROAD PAVING
County commissioner John Pethel asked county attorney Mike Pruett about progress on securing rights of way for the paving of Young Harris Road. Pruett said there is one right of way in the county file for that road. Pethel said he gathered rights of way for that paving and turned it into the county clerk’s office, but that the paperwork has been lost.
“The statement was made that that road would never be paved as long as I was in office,” said Pethel. “But now I have two more years in office and we can’t delay that road that much longer. I had all those right of ways signed. I worked hard to get them. I turned them over to the clerk’s office and now there’s only one right of way.”
NO PERSONNEL ACTION IN BOC OFFICE
County clerk Morris Fortson asked that the board consider hiring a deputy clerk to assist him in the commissioners’ office. He said he needs assistance getting a wage study completed in order to provide the board with adequate budget figures for 2009. Former county zoning administrator Kim Butler has been proposed for that position. Pethel said no action should be taken until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation wraps up its investigation of alleged missing money in the BOC office. Fortson said a GBI agent was scheduled to come to the office Tuesday.
The BOC agreed to hold budget hearings at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 19, and Wednesday Aug. 20, in the county government complex.
The county commissioners approved a renewal of the county’s property, casualty and general liability insurance with Trident Insurance. The premium is down $6,000 this year to $174,418.