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 Property Tax story reported in the Sentinel
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GrayEagle

USA
9966 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2005 :  08:55:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit GrayEagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote
This Forum may be the best place for discussion about the Property Tax story reported in the Sentinel. There are a lot of Political sides to this problem.

May I suggest that Admin or Moderator move the discussions to this topic?

GrayEagle
"I am an American! I am not a White-American, African-American, Cuban-American, or any other hyphenated-American!"

Edited by - GrayEagle on 09/18/2005 08:58:23 AM

coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2005 :  09:41:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Can you put up a link so we can read about the property tax story?

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Chris

USA
179 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2005 :  10:09:51 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here's a link:

http://www.unionsentinel.com/news/2005/0915/Front_Page/001.html

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coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2005 :  10:55:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Chris!

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MayfieldFan19

USA
32 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2005 :  11:09:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
re.tax assessment norman and associates;does anyone know if ga law requires more than one bid and if so/was a lower bid turned in and rejected and why'


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coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2005 :  12:38:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Where is shadow, he would know.?

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2005 :  12:51:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
My problem with answering this, Coosa, is that I only think I know. I couldn't find a reference to verify this against when I looked last. Sounds like a good question for Lamar to answer!

Shadow


FWIW, JOMO. YMMV! Go to Top of Page

MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2005 :  4:43:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yes there was a MUCH lower bid: Norman & Associates, $333,000, was $158,000 higher than a competing bid by a more reputable and experienced firm located in Georgia, Atlanta to be specific, rather than this out-of-state corrupt and unprofessional job. $1 says Lamar blames the Board of Assessors, but he has the final say as he cuts the checks, not the Board of Assessors... Read this week's Sentinel if you want to catch the latest developments...

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.Go to Top of Page

sentinel

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2005 :  10:26:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Et tu Libre!
fred

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2005 :  11:05:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
this out-of-state corrupt and unprofessional job.

Are you saying that you were adversely impacted by the reappraisal performed by Norman and Associates? Did you appeal? How was that appeal handled?

Shadow


FWIW, JOMO. YMMV! Go to Top of Page

Eddie


49 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2005 :  11:56:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I will respond to that question. Yes, I most definitely was adversly affected by their (Norman & Assoc.) reappraisal. In one instance a lot that I purchased for $10,000.00 was appraised by them at $53,000.00. I had only owned this lot about three months. It was purchased through a realtor, had been listed for about a year as I recall and was owned and devoleped by Kenneth Jenkins and the late Bill Fix. These two have probably devoleped more property than anyone in this county. In other words, they are not rookies in this business. This sale definitely qualified as an "arms length transaction" if you understand assessors language. To put this in further perspective, I sold this lot three years later for $25,000.00 after spending hundreds of dollars on improvement.
Yes, I did appeal.
The appeal was handled illegally in my opinion and never should have been necessary. However, I was able to get it corrected.
This is only one example of what happened to me. I had several other similar examples of this shoddy and corrupt reapraisal.
What is important here is not whether or not my appraisals were corrected or not. What is important is that this should have never happened the way it did and by who did this. Many codes were violated in respect to hundreds, if not thousands of parcels of property. Some were increased one thousand per cent and more. Further, many people do not even know what has been done to them and many who do know are not capable of defending themselves due to lack of knowledge in these matters. And by far, the biggest sin of all, is that many are afraid to question local officials for fear of reprisal. This fear is not unfounded or baseless in this county. Do I expect reprisal? Yes, I expect the fox guarding the hen house to try something and I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

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ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2005 :  12:18:06 AM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Eddie, we already read your story in the paper and I respect your view on this. I was asking MountainThinker the question because of how he characterized the work Norman & Associates did. I was trying to see if he was responding to it that way because of first hand knowledge, or was echoing others' sentiments.

Shadow


FWIW, JOMO. YMMV! Go to Top of Page

Eddie


49 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2005 :  12:47:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I understand, I too would like to hear from anyone else with first hand knowledge. But, let me assure you that you have not heard anywhere near all of this (my) story. There is much much more to come with very serious ramifications to those involved and could cost this County enormous amounts of money.

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CADGuy


103 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2005 :  10:18:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Eddie,

There have been conversations going on in the county for a few years that relate to what some call extreme tax adjustments after the sale unjustly applied to out of county...or flatlanders as is often said.

Some say the county preaches they won't have to raise taxes on homeowners by participatine in a bait-n-switch tax accessment. Because the accessment is applied to out of towners that might not know their neighbors or the history surrounding past tax adjustments often an appeal is not requested. And it sounds like it will float when you think that most moving to the area would see a 60% increase as chicken feed compared to where they've come from.

When a land parcel is purchased in the county by a union county individual you could find the tax appraisal applied to that sale might be a 5% increase but when that same parcel is sold or resold to an individual from out of town or out of state the new tax adjustement could be 60% higher than when the sale was made to a union count local.

I've never heard someone claiming that another entity was responsible for any "prejudicial tax adjustment" but you could probably easily sell the idea.

Good luck

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MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2005 :  12:16:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great article and editorial in this past week's Sentinel. John Buchanan is really hitting a homerun in my book! I encourage everyone to read them both. I am anxiously awaiting the meeting and it's outcome... By the way, I hope as many of you as possible will make it to the Dept of Revenue hearing Thursday at 10:30 AM in the courtroom at the County Courthouse. We need to to hold Lamar accountable andmake certain he knows the citizenry is watching.

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.Go to Top of Page

MountainThinker

USA
24 Posts

Posted - 10/26/2005 :  12:37:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Lamar has decided to hold the meeting tomorrow morning (great time for working people!) in the trailer behind the courthouse (which can hold 30-40 people), instead of the courtroom (which can hold 300+ people), which is customary. So I have this straight, the meeting is in the middle of the morning on a work day in the smallest area location the county has available...another milestone for open government in Union County. Thanks Lamar!

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.Go to Top of Page

fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  12:08:01 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good news! all of this controversy in the Tax assessors office has attracted the attention of the Associated Press and they have put out a nation wide story about the tax problems in Georgia. I say great work John!Our little ol meeting that Lamar claims is "much to do about nothing"has only attracted the attention of probably the largest news organization in the world. Don't think he is going to talk his way out of this. Just clued in to this site and have injoyed the chatter. I reciever an E-mail today that made Lamar come un glued. I will try to cut & paste it here.

Lamar is at it again.

He is planning to hold a very important tax discussion and hearing in the trailer behind the courthouse on the 27, thur. at 10:30 AM. He is holding it there because he plans on filling it with his cronies and keeping the opposition out. He is about to cram a large tax burden on us to pay for a million dollar loan he just made to pay back the IRS and keep the county running. Don't let him get away with it. Lets be there in force and make him move the meeting to civic center.

Please do what the message says and be there

sonnyGo to Top of Page

GrayEagle

USA
9966 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  05:56:54 AM  Show Profile  Visit GrayEagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I was just wondering if anyone knows if Lamar is related to Norm?

GrayEagle

****Blessed are the cracked: For it is they who let in the light*****Go to Top of Page

nativelady

USA
11126 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  06:58:10 AM  Show Profile  Visit nativelady's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Ummm....Lamar is a local feller...Norm I THINK is from somewhere else....not sure...I don't think they are related.

I live in my own little world. But it's OK. They know me here...
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coosa creek

USA
39313 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  11:15:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am sure they are not related.

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fairplay

USA
36 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  1:58:14 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
For those of you who didn't get to the kangaroo court here is what I had to say

All laws in this country are written with fairness in mind. We may not like taxes (and if they are a little high or low) it really makes no difference, as long as everyone pays their fair share. The law to appraise your property is pretty well written and if it is followed like it is written it would be fine. What has happened is our Tax assessor’s office and our commissioner have taken it upon them selves to bend and alter the rules to suit their ideas on how it should be done. The end result is everyone is not taxed fairly. We had a land only, re appraisal done in 2001and it was unfair and I will show why.
The Appraiser’s office brought in outside firm to do evaluation. Why?
We have been paying and maintaining an appraisers and assessment office for years.
Our in house people brought in the assessment within the guidelines set up by the state.
If it was low and they couldn’t keep up with present personnel, the county could have added personnel rather than hire someone that doesn’t know our topography.
Our legal organ was used to miss-lead the public on June 13 2001 and on Sept 26 2001 when they said we “must,” or it is “mandated” to have this re-assessment done county wide.
The State never mandates! In the minutes of the Board of Assessors, Susie Phillips acknowledges that some of the statements in the NGN were not correct, but she did nothing to correct them. A picture of Susie Phillips and Joe Norman appeared in one of the articles, and they both knew that was not a statement of the facts. When asked, about producing the letter mandating it, Susie told me there was no such letter, only the law. Lamar made statements at county meetings telling us we had to have the assessment done, even though he didn’t request it. He blamed it on Harold Cook
The firm they hired had lost their corporate license 13 years before, and yet they claimed they had paid state and federal taxes for all of those 13 years. The firm also did not furnish enough personnel to do the job properly. One man could not possibly check 135 parcels a day and fairly evaluate them.
Did anyone see him out checking?
Norman & Associates used one of their own employees to summit a competitive bid, to make their bid look legitimate.
When a freeholder challenged his high assessment, he had to go before the same person who was holding hearings in place of our appointed Assessment Board.
N&A brought most of the property of people that challenged their assessments back down to more reasonable levels, but refused to drop adjoining properties because those owners didn’t challenge. This throws the whole assessment out of balance. The high assessed values are used on future assessments to throw the county digest even farther out of balance. A lot of owners could not come to a hearing and didn’t know that to appear before N&A was almost a sure thing to get property lowered. While some people were appealing their assessment (as instructed on their assessment notice) and having to suffer the indignities of meeting with Joe Norman, others were going to the BOA office and getting theirs changed on the spot. Not only is this not fair, but it also makes it impossible to keep up with the number of people that protested their assessment. The public has the protection that if a certain percentage of the freeholders challenge their assessment, the state will hold up the digest until it is corrected.

If an accurate account is not kept of challenges how can the digest be filed with the state without fabricating the total?

Either everyone should go before the board or everyone goes to the desk. Either way accurate records should be kept of any changes made on property values. They told us that once changed the computer is not set up to retrieve the old value. In either case the BOA cannot or will not furnish an accurate count of the people who challenged their assessment.

I need to explain that UCCBC stands for Union County Citizens for a Better Community

Inconsistencies of record keeping

List asked for by UCCBC of people who protested-2001-------------------523 parcels
360 Tax Payers
Duplicates in listing received-------------------------------------------------------7
UCCBC member’s parcels not on list at all ------------------------------------40

Same List asked for by Sentinel in 2005---------------------------------------665 parcels
411 Tax Payers
More than UCCBC list-----------------------------------------------------------142
Total not on UCCBC list at all--------------------------------------------------218

UCCBC asked for list of people who went on to Board of Equalization ---59
Sentinel asked for people who went on to Board of Equalization 05--------75
People who appeared on UCCBC and Sentinel list----------------------------29
People who did not appear on either list-----------------------------------------46

Parcels picked at random from 17,400 to see if property was devalued---274
Checked after digest was posted in 2002 found new protesters---------------26 *
* If followed out to 17,400 parcels, this would be almost 10% of the digest.

Obviously from these collections Susie’s personnel do not know how to retrieve these records or it is not possible to retrieve them.

UCCBC was charged 320 dollars for furnishing this material. The Sentinel was charged 70 dollars, 4 years later. Lamar, at a meeting in early Mar.2002 stated that he realized that we couldn’t get an accurate count and eventually refunded our money on Mar. 13, 2002. Knowing that they can’t produce an accurate list, Susie’s office still charged the Sentential for a made up list.
To me, being Chief Appraiser and also Chairman of the Assessment Board, is a conflict of interest. The board is designed as a buffer between the people and the appraisers, so that they have a place to challenge the findings. When you have the Chief Appraiser also hearing your challenge (as a member of the assessment board) you do not have fair representation. When Susie’s niece is working for the appraiser and is also on the board of assessors, the challenger doesn’t have a prayer. The same scenario happened when Norman & Associates sat in place of the Board of Assessors. It’s like going before the cop that gave you the ticket, who is now the judge, and trying to argue your case. Assessments were changed at the desk without a meeting of the assessment board (by simply changing the value in the computer before and after the deadline for county wide land assessment). No record is kept of that change.

Now here we go again in 2005!
The county has made a new contract for a re-evaluation of land & structures with the same controversial company, but this time it is for 1/3 of a million dollars. We have had the same scary headlines in the NGN telling us “OR Else” and our Commissioner told us the bid he accepted was 150 thousand lower than the competitive bid. In reality the competitive bid was 150 thousand lower than the bid he accepted, and wasn’t caught until someone asked to see the bids some weeks later. If this wasn’t planned, why didn’t someone in the courthouse correct the miss statement immediately? Lamar made statements that he would never use an outside jobber to re-evaluate and now he has OK’d a 1/3 million dollar bid. What happened to “giving the Tax Assessor’s office the tools and personnel to do the job?” If you look at the two companies bids and compare them, the lower bid goes into much more detail on the job they will do. I would like someone to explain in detail why the higher bid was worth spending 150,000 more of our tax-payers money.

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mad4martinis

USA
13730 Posts

Posted - 10/27/2005 :  3:30:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I went, I saw, & I got educated. That's what I feel that people who don't understand the whole process of the appeals happens. They need do be educated!
Mr. Paris did stick his foot in his mouth a couple of times when he threw some stones. I personally don't think that in his position, it was very professional, but he is only human.
I hope to see some changes taking place in the near future, & don't feel it's appropriate for Norman & Assoc. to act in behalf as the board of accessors when you appeal. It's a conflict of interest.


Shaken, dirty, 4 Olives.Go to Top of Page

GrayEagle

USA
9966 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2005 :  07:22:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit GrayEagle's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Gee, I wonder if Lamar is going to loose his "secret decoder ring" because of this scandal?

GrayEagle

****Blessed are the cracked: For it is they who let in the light*****

Edited by - GrayEagle on 10/29/2005 07:25:04 AMGo to Top of Page

mad4martinis

USA
13730 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2005 :  10:15:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sonny, I realize that it may have not worked out the way y'all were wanting, but it did shed some light on the process & it's important now that people know about what is going on & hopefully this will change. The public needs to be educated about the process.

Shaken, dirty, 4 Olives.Go to Top of Page

ShadowMan

USA
4158 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2005 :  11:03:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit ShadowMan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There was a lot of good information in the Sentinel this past week regarding how other counties did it, and what kind of oversight Norman & Associates needed.

Add to that the public meeting, with media coverage, and I think it sends a clear message to all local government officials that Blairsville has grown past doing things the way it was done in the past. Records need to be accurate and verifiable.

In the private sector, we have Sarbanes-Oxley (SarBox) to comply with now to give investors confidence that the financial data being presented hasn't been tainted at any point along the way, and that the C-level executives (CEO, COO, CFO, etc) can't do any finger pointing to lower levels when "creative accounting" gets uncovered.

On the government side, the Sunshine and Open Records laws allow access to government records so that interested parties can see how government business is being conducted, not just be told that this is how government business is being done.

I think a threshold was reached, where Blairsville and Union County grew out of the old model, where benevolent government was expected and not audited, and into the new, where government is still exepcted to be benevolent, isn't really trusted to be able to do so, and needs auditing to prove whether it is or not.

Perhaps we passed it some time back and didn't quite realize it. Just a gnawing sense that maybe something wasn't right, or that we didn't have enough information to know whether something wasn't right.

The Sentinel has stepped into this void and put a top-notch bulldog on it. It might seems a little on the excessive side, leading to overheard comments like "We never needed that before" or "Those tactics aren't needed here". But the water isn't really that hot. We just hadn't adjusted to the temperature.

Shadow
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fawn

USA
2223 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2005 :  11:24:26 AM  Show Profile  Visit fawn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Very well said Shadow.

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