Monday, April 21, 2014
When the Georgia Department of Revenue released the performance review board’s report on the Fannin County Tax Assessors in early March every one focused in on what is now the famous page “15”. Page fifteen stated that four employees of the Tax Assessor’s office influenced their property value.
"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."
"Economic Obsolescence is considered a loss in value due to forces outside the property such as proximity to a landfill or airport. It appears that economic obsolescence is being applied incorrectly by the appraisal staff."
Three employees showed up on the list of 63, Chief Appraiser Lorie Galloway, Field Appraiser Tim Messer and Data Entry Clerk Darlene Ledford, But no number four. Who is number four? A source told FYN it was Steve Stanley. FYN contacted Stanley to ask if he was the missing name. Stanley told FYN that he was not number four. He said he had no idea who it was and it was possible that there was not even a number four, implying the PRB may have made a mistake.
We then asked Galloway in an open record request for the name of number four (all open record email correspondence is listed below). Galloway told FYN that they could not find a number four. Galloway went on to tell us that they had requested the information from the DOR.
“We would note that the Performance Review Board, on page 15 of its report, stated that 4 employees of the BTA had obsolescence factors applied to their properties. This office, after diligent review, has only been able to confirm three. Further, we have requested the Department of Revenue to explain the addition of a fourth member and have yet to receive any meaningful reply or identification of the fourth person.”
That was Galloway’s response to FYN on April 8th. FYN did an open records request with the DOR on April 9th requesting the four names. Nick Genesi, director of communications for the DOR, responded to our request for the four names on April 14th. The missing name the DOR supplied FYN was Tax Assessor Field Appraiser Steve Stanley.
FYN did an open record request with the Board Of Commissioners for the fourth name but they told us the BTA office had only supplied them with three names. We asked chairman of the BTA David Lewis who the fourth employee was and he told us they did not know and implied that the DOR PRB made a mistake on the number of employees. He told us that they had inquired to the DOR on the fourth and awaited its answer.
In the PRB report they stated a lack of confidence in the Tax Assessor office.
“The review also states that this leads to a "lack of confidence" in the appraisal staff, the appraisal methodology used, and the BOA.”
Questions arise. Why can’t the BTA see the fourth name in the system? Why if they knew did they not turn the name over to the BOC or to FYN in an open records request? Did Galloway, Stanley and Lewis know? How did FYN get the name from the DOR and the BTA couldn't? If the PRB lacks confidence in the BTA office why should the citizens have confidence that their property will be properly assessed? If Fannin county has to use an outside source to re appraise all parcels what will that cost the county? Will the BTA office be investigated by the District Attorney’s office? What is in the executive session notes? What was the big deal with finding out Steve Stanley was employee #4? How will the BOC respond to this?
Steve Stanley is currently Chairman of the School Board and is running for re-election.
Tax Assessor Board under Pressure After $793,892 Mistake
Tax Assessors Ask for Thousands
BOC Holds Heated Meeting with BOA
Steve Stanley Votes to Raise Taxes on Citizens of Fannin County
Please consider the following an Open Records Request. In an email on April the 8th you stated,
"Further, we have requested the Department of Revenue to explain the addition of a fourth member and have yet to receive any meaningful reply or identification of the fourth person."
My request is for a copy of the documents and explanation received from the Department of Revenue on your inquiry.
Thank you for your time.
From: "Lorie Galloway"
Sent: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 1:06pm
Subject: RE: Open Records Request
Please be advised of the provisions of OCGA 48-5-306(d) as compared to OCGA § 50-18-71, particularly with regard to the term “notwithstanding”. However, in this particular instance, the BTA will provide you with the requested documents without charge.
We would note that the Performance Review Board, on page 15 of its report, stated that 4 employees of the BTA had obsolescence factors applied to their properties. This office, after diligent review, has only been able to confirm three. Further, we have requested the Department of Revenue to explain the addition of a fourth member and have yet to receive any meaningful reply or identification of the fourth person.
In addition, the BTA has determined that for the time being, property owned by employees of the BTA will be reviewed by an independent, outside agency to ensure accuracy and public confidence in the Assessors’ office. The independent agency will be tasked with making an onsite inspection and review of all components of the land and structures upon each BTA employee’s property. This will include, but not necessarily be limited to depreciation, class of the structure, the square footage, obsolescence or any other factors which may have an effect on value. In addition, the agent will not be advised as to the identity of the owner of the parcel to further ensure the independence and accountability of the review. Please reply that you have received the attached documents or you may pick up a copy at the Assessors' Office as well.
The Fannin County Board of Tax Assessors
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2014 12:39 PM
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Open Records Request
Board of Fannin County Tax Assessors/ Fannin County
“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 a0 state the complete basis for said privilege, b) provide a redacted copy of said record as provided in OCGA 50-18-72 (b).”
Above is the original Open Records Request that I submitted on 3/12/14. Although I appreciate all 63, I did say “4 were found on structures owned by employees of the BOA.”
Although you feel I was not clear I am now asking for you to identify the four property owners and addresses of properties of the employees of the BOA that were a part of the 63 economic obsolescence.
Please consider that an Open Records Request.
I also made a verbal request for the same information this morning to Miss Mary Jo Towe in the BOA office. Miss Towe stated that it could take up to ten days to retrieve the information.
With all due respect, I have already paid for the first open records act and the second request should only take seconds pulling the four employees names off of the original list of my request.
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Office: 706.276.NEWS (6397)
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