By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Assessors (BOA) met Friday, March 23 and quickly tackled the business before them. Board member Mark Henson was not present at the meeting.
First item of business was welcoming Blue Ridge business owner Angelina Powell to the board. Powell was nominated by Commission Chairman Stan Helton in February and appointed to succeed BOA Chairman Lane Bishop.
Nominations for chair was next. Board member Troy Junnier nominated Janie Bearden, who was approved unanimously to serve as chair of the BOA. Later in the meeting, Bearden nominated Troy Junnier for the position of vice chair and he was approved unanimously.
After routine business was dispensed with, Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran presented a budget review. Cochran stated the actual budget is in line but addressed a $40,000 expenditure listed under capital outlay. The line item amount shows $25,000 over the $15,000 budgeted. However, according to Cochran, the amount includes the February purchase of two 2016 Ford Escapes at $20,000 each. Cochran said she had discussed the line item amount with Finance Director Robin Gazaway, who “didn’t seem to think it would be a problem.”
Another explanation concerned an over-budget amount of $30,524.41 for maps and aerial pictometry, when only $24,000 was budgeted. Cochran explained the amount covers the 2018 Pictometry LiDAR county mapping project BOA expects to receive compensation from other county departments as well as municipalities (cities) that will benefit from the mapping.
The board approved:
● An invoice for $1,400 from Baker Allen, a registered forester who was recently contracted to complete the 2018 timber valuation (70 hours at $20 an hour).
● A $3,000 invoice for employee uniforms.
● A contract with Harris Govern to print and mail the 2018 notice of assessments (NOAs) to county property owners (52 cents each for an estimated 31,600 NOAs (approximately $16,400 from Harris Govern).
● Update from the state for Kelley Blue Book values to be uploaded into the WinGap computer-assisted appraisal program for motor vehicle data.
During Public Comments, former Chairman Lane Bishop, who had promised to attend tax assessors meetings as a member of the public, made a brief statement and distributed a typed letter to each member of the board as well as members of the media.
“I do appreciate this board,” Bishop stated. “I really do, but you all have got an awesome job, more than you may think. I think you are beginning to see this is pretty complex and convoluted sometimes. But you all use your good common sense, and you don’t let somebody else tell you how to vote, please.”
In his letter to the board members, Bishop implored the Board to:
1. Please finish the reassessment of the remaining 10,000 parcels that has not been done. The other taxpayers are not being treated fairly if this is not done;
2. Please do not allow this department to go back to the ‘good old boys’ state we found it in years ago; (and)
3. The Board of Commissioners has no authority over this department even though they do control the budget as I was reminded of many times.