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From Where I Sit

Debi Holcomb
Debi Holcomb
Debi Holcomb

Let’s try to make sense of the Jan. 23 BOC meeting
“I will never be okay with a new vehicle for the Tax Assessor’s Office,” said Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson at the Board of Commissioners (BOC) Jan. 23 meeting.
Only hand-me-downs or a used vehicle will be considered for county-employed tax assessors to drive on (some) rough, un-paved roads to appraise properties all over Fannin County.
From where I sit, that is just wrong.
It is not about how much money is in their budget, as we all thought. All three commissioners are just dead-set against any new vehicles being purchased for the Tax Assessors.
In the past, other departments were able to purchase new vehicles when older ones became unsafe or unoperational. If there was any life at all left in the older vehicle, the BOC would give that vehicle to the Assessors. It didn’t matter that the Assessors had scrimped and saved their budgeted monies to be able to afford a new warranted vehicle for the appraisers—the commissioners let them know Jan. 23 that they were NEVER-EVER going to get a new vehicle.
Why is this? I wonder. What did the Tax Assessors Office, the Assessors Board, or the employees do to anger the BOC?
I can’t answer that question because the Board won’t explain, other than Johnson’s opinion that, “You can’t drive up to a house you’re going to appraise for property taxes in a brand-new vehicle, when the property owner might not even HAVE a vehicle or be driving a 10-year-old vehicle.”
I can’t answer because the Board feels they do not have to explain themselves to taxpayers. In black and white on the Agenda, it says public comment is NOT a question and answer session. All I do know is the Tax Assessors need two vehicles, plus an additional vehicle has been needed and requested over the past two years.
I am a taxpayer, so I understand the reasoning behind getting the most use out of a county asset. Use the vehicle until it is no longer safe to drive. But I am also a consumer, so I understand the savings of replacing old vehicles with new warranted vehicles, instead of buying someone else’s headache in a used vehicle.
Let’s look back at what else happened at the Jan. 23 meeting. After Troy Junnier, a member of the Tax Assessors Board, explained that the two “hand-me-down” vehicles the tax assessors were recently given (and now not running) would “cost more to repair than they were worth” (determined by Public Works Director Zack Ratcliff) and that employees were using their own vehicles and being paid for gas and mileage (only); that the tax assessors had just come into compliance with the Georgia Revenue Dept. and a consent agreement two years ago. AND that they still had over 10,000 properties to appraise…AND that the tax assessors’ jobs are to appraise property and set values for taxes that fund Fannin County government. And they can’t do their jobs without vehicles.
What of the safety of the employees using these vehicles? Are the tax assessors less valued than other county employees? I just do not understand the distinction the commissioners draw between departments. The rules for one department should be the same for all departments, wouldn’t you agree?
The “resolution” to the tax appraisers’ problem was suggested by Mr. Helton. He said Land Development had TWO vehicles that run and only needed one vehicle–so one of those vehicles could be transferred to the tax appraisers’ office. Never mind that the tax appraisers had said they needed THREE vehicles—that request was completely ignored. Again, would someone please tell me why the Tax Assessors do not deserve ONE new vehicle (ever) and MUST take hand-me-downs?
Send a letter to the editor and let me know how YOU feel about this situation. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.
Debi Holcomb