November 26th, 2002
The Hart County Board of Commissioners met November 26th, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hart County Courthouse/Courtroom.
Chairman Joey Dorsey presided with Commissioners R. C. Oglesby, Don Burdick, Randy Banister and Ken Brown in attendance.
Call to Order
Chairman Dorsey called the meeting to order.
Chairman Dorsey welcomed those in attendance.
Commissioner Banister offered prayer.
Pledge of Allegiance
Everyone stood in observance of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to amend and approve the meeting agenda as follows:
g. Peek Estates Sub-Division Road to County Road System
Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Approve Minutes of Previous Meeting(s)
November 12th, 2002
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting held November 12th, 2002. Commissioner Burdick provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Remarks by Invited Guests, Committees, Authorities, Etc.
Reports By Constitutional Officers & Department Heads
County Administrator's Report
County Administrator Gary Cobb did not have anything to report.
Chairman Dorsey reported that the LOST arbitration hearing is scheduled December 4th, 2002 at the Hart County Literacy Center at 10:00 a.m.
No action was taken.
Commissioner Burdick entered a motion to remove the item from the table to discuss. Chairman Dorsey provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to adopt the FY03 Millage Rate. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion.
Chairman Dorsey read a letter from the Board of Education members requesting that the Board proceed with the adoption of the millage rate stating that delaying the process would put a financial burden on the school system.
Jerry Linne', representing the Hart County Property Owners Association, commended the Board for listening to the Associations appeal to delay the digest. He remarked that the current digest is morally and ethically wrong and that there is little foundation of trust.
Ron Rogers asked if Chief Appraiser Margaret Crossley is being dishonest or incompetent in assessing land values. He said he read in the newspaper that the State Department of Revenue clearly saw disputed figures with the digest and the number of appeals were above the number that Ms. Crossley had reported.
Chairman Dorsey remarked that Mr. Rogers should discuss the matter with the Board of Tax Assessors.
Mr. Rogers responded that a meeting was scheduled with the Board of Assessors however, due to miscommunication of the location of the meeting place they did not meet. He remarked that they tried to reschedule a meeting with the Assessors and was told the legal council had advised them not to answer any questions from the Property Owners Association.
County Attorney Walter Gordon responded that he has never advised the Board of Assessors not to respond to county citizens.
Chairman Dorsey remarked that he has been talking with the Department of Revenue concerning the digest. He suggested that the property owners follow the appeals process.
Mr. Rogers remarked that the appeals process is a "joke" and it would not solve the problem. Adding that five percent of the property owners would be cheated. He also remarked that his property is labeled "resort" which is totally wrong.
Commissioner Burdick suggested that the board return to the millage rate of the previous year. He recognized that there are inaccuracies with the digest and the difference in income would be $199,000, which could be taken out of fund balance.
County Attorney Gordon remarked that the State Department of Revenue mandates that counties submit a digest for 2002. He urged everyone to keep his or her appointments with the Board of Tax Assessors. He added that the Assessors have to follow the law and that the appeals process is not a joke.
Jerry Linne' remarked that the Board of Assessors is suppose to oversee the Chief Appraiser, however the Chief Appraiser oversees the Board.
Attorney Gordon remarked that the Board of Assessors has done their duty and that the Board of Commissioners doesn't have anything to do with the digest other than to establish the millage rate. He said if the Superior Court establishes a digest and millage rate that it would not relieve the county from submitting a digest and millage rate resolution. He added that all grants would be frozen until the digest is submitted and approved by the State and it would have a reflection on the county's bond rating.
Pete Negel remarked that the current digest is built on a "sea of quick sand" and it would be a mistake to move ahead.
Mary Dilworth remarked that it is wrong to tax people too much.
Noble Tally requested the board read the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
Commissioner Banister remarked that it would be cost prohibited going back to last years digest and that the move could cost a lot of money.
Commissioner Burdick said he thought it would be insurmountable to go back to last year's digest and that the county should weather the storm.
Thomas Slater expressed his concern for individuals that are on a low fixed incomes that would not be able to continue paying higher property taxes.
Franklin Hinson commented on the cost for preparing appeals and there is no allowance for recouping cost.
Jean Moon said her property assessment in the Rock Springs community is up over $100,000 from last year.
County Administrator Gary Cobb reported that the Department of Revenue audits the Assessors office every three year and this is the year that the audit is being performed. Adding that it's the Department of Revenues decision to accept or reject the digest.
Brooks Preacher asked who reviews the Chief Appraiser and who reviews the Assessor Board. Administrator Cobb reported that the Chairman of the Board of Assessors is responsible for the Chief Appraiser's performance evaluation.
Jerry Linne' said the Tax Assessor Board appoints Appraiser Crossley, however she is in a category by herself and can not be touched.
Ruth Roosenburg reported that the members of the Property Owners Association has pulled property cards in the Assessors' office and found that buildings have been measured incorrectly. Ms. Roosenburg questioned how the number of appeals could drop below five percent when the appeal hearings began twelve days ago.
Commissioner Banister remarked that the conservation program assessment appeals dead line was November 23rd, 2002.
Mrs. Roosenburg said there is still hope that the Department of Revenue will reject the digest.
Chairman Dorsey called for the vote. The motion carried 4-1 with Commissioner Burdick opposed. The Millage Rate Resolution is recorded in the minutes book.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to adopt the Tax Rollback Resolution. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried by 4-0. Commissioner Burdick was not available at the call of the vote.
a. Agnew Subdivision
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to approve Agnew Subdivision request. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
b. Weaver Subdivision
Chairman Dorsey entered a motion to approve Weaver Subdivision request. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Commissioner Burdick entered a motion to approve Etheridge Subdivision request. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Commissioner Burdick entered a motion to approve the SPLOST II Budget Amendment. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
e. General Fund Budget Amendment - Sheriff
Commissioner Banister entered a motion to table the request and send the invoice to the District Attorney's office. Commissioner Burdick provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
f. County Road System Ordinance
County Attorney presented the third reading of the County Road System Ordinance.
Commissioner Burdick entered a motion to adopt the County Road System Ordinance. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0. The ordinance is recorded in the minutes book.
g. Peek Estates Subdivision to County Road System
Commissioner Burdick entered a motion to table the request. Commissioner Banister provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Attorney Gordon stated that the state law requires ten days notice in the local paper to petition the court for temporary tax collection process prior to the end of the calendar year.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to authorize the County Attorney to petition the Superior Court if the digest is not approved. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Jerry Linne' stated that he is not looking down on the Board of Assessors or coming down on anyone.
Martha Morris questioned when repairs are scheduled for E&M Dairy Road. Commissioner Oglesby stated the county is waiting for approval by the DOT to proceed.
Joel Moore thanked the Board for making a tough decision to approve the Millage rate and complimented each of them. He encouraged individuals to get interested in the budget process in order to know where the tax dollars are being spent.
Chairman Dorsey reported that the next meeting would be at the Administrative Center.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Joey Dorsey, Chairman Lawana Kahn, County Clerk