The latest round of appeals began earlier this month, which would add a third round of appeals to the Board of Equalization’s workload, County Manager William Wilson Jr. pointed out. He said some of those could be the same property owners appealing each year.
There is also concern that if the appeals from previous years come in below the 85 percent that those appealing have to pay, the county would have to issue refunds from tax money that has already been spent. Wilson has attempted on several occasions to get the information from the Clerk of Superior Court who, per changes in state law, now handles scheduling and training for the Board of Appeals.
The Grand Jury makes appointments to the Board of Equalization, which hears tax appeals if the taxpayer disagrees with the ruling of the Board of Tax Assessors. The initial appeal of the revaluation goes to the assessors and residents have until Sept. 15, this year to file those.
If the Board of Tax Assessors makes no changes, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the Board of Equalization and a hearing is scheduled, conducted and the Board of Equalization renders its decision. If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied with the decision, an appeal to Superior Court may be made.
Since the clerk is an elected, constitutional officer, the commissioners can only request status reports and approve the budget for the office. Wilson noted the board has approved additional funding for training for the Board of Equalization and for part-time office staff in the clerk’s office just for that board.
“My concern,” said County Commission Chairman Gwen Flowers-Taylor, “is nobody has been hired to do that job and consequently the appeals are not being heard. I’m hoping we could request some information as to when these appeals will be addressed.”
Wilson, according to emails provided, has requested status of the appeals and Board of Equalization at least six times since Sept. 5, 2011, from Spalding County Clerk of Superior Court Marcia Norris.
A workshop meeting has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 28, with the city commissioners and school board invited as they are also impacted by the potential change in the tax digest.
The agenda for the workshop includes a discussion regarding calculations of the 2012 assessments and update on current appeals with Larry Griggers of AVTACS, who was contracted by the county to help with the reassessments as well as Chief Tax Appraiser Tim Whalen. Also on the agenda is Norris for an update and status report on the Board of Equalization and 2010 and 2011 appeals.