Several months ago the BOC requested a review to be performed on the BOA, those results are in. On Tuesday March 25th, the BOC and BOA held a joint meeting to discuss the report.
The Georgia State Department of Revenue final report was a 25 page document discussing the BOA. Page 15 of the document states that
"The Performance Review Board (PRB) found 63 instances of economic obsolescence; 4 were found on structures owned by employees of the BOA. In each case, the influence factor of less-than-one reduced the employee's property value."
What is an economic obsolescence? The report states,
"Economic Obsolescence is considered a loss in value due to forces outside the property such as proximity to a land fill or airport. It appears that economic obsolescence is being applied incorrectly by the appraisal staff."
The review also states that this leads to a "lack of confidence" in the appraisal staff, the appraisal methodology used, and the BOA.
On March 12th FYN sent in the following as an open records request to see the copy of the 63 parcels. The request read,
"Pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act, OCGA 50-18-70 et al, please provide me with a copy of the tax assessments, including the owners names, addresses and property address if different, as to the "63 instances of economic obsolescence; 4 were found on structures owned by employees of the BOA," as the same is referenced on page 15 of the "Review of Performance of the Fannin County Board of Tax Assessors" dated February 21, 2014. To the extent that you contend that any document or record is privilege, please a) state the complete basis for said privilege, b) provide a redacted copy of said record as provided in OCGA 50-18-72 (b)."
After receiving the list and reviewing the document, FYN noticed that two of the properties had been duplicated leaving only 61 total parcels.
FYN was able to find the names of Chief Appraiser Lorie Galloway, Field Appraiser Tim Messer and Appraiser/Data Entry Clerk Darlene Ledford on the list. According to the state these three property owners' parcels values were lowered incorrectly. This included three of the four BOA owned properties, but where is the fourth?
On Friday FYN entered the office of the BOA to try and find out that piece of information. Upon arriving Chief Appraiser Galloway stated that FYN was not clear in the first Open Records Request and that another needed to be submitted.
Upon submitting the next request Galloway stated that it could take up to ten days to retrieve the information. Why will it take ten days to circle four names on a list?
During the joint meeting Chairman Bill Simonds said that this might be one of the hardest meetings he has had to have in the past five years.
Simonds would go on to say that,
"If they (BOA) have been raising or lowering their taxes to benefit themselves that's something a grand jury needs to look into."
On page 6 of the review the report states that there is a
"lack of detail"
in the BOA meetings. It also states that the review board asked for the executive session minutes to review, but the BOA declined and did not turn the minutes over.
Why wouldn't they turn them over? What is in the minutes?
During the meeting Simonds stated to the crowd and BOA members,
"In my prior life if I would have gotten a report written on me like this, I wouldn't have seen the sun come up the next morning on that job."
FYN spoke with a source within the BOA. The member said that there was not a fourth parcel.
Who is incorrect? The state or BOA? Will a grand jury look at this? Will the Commissioners get the four names like they asked for by tomorrow?
Stick with FYN for all of the developing details pertaining to the BOA review.
Below you can watch the Joint Meeting and watch the LIVE April 8th Commissioners meeting starting at 5:15