$15,000 Found But Who is in Charge?

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The Fannin County BOA had its second meeting under the new board on Friday, but questions arose from the public of who was really in charge?
The meeting started out with Chairman of the Board Lane Bishop telling the audience that John Foster would begin the meeting with his report of being the new office supervisor.

Foster opened the floor by saying,

“The tax digest has been corrected to reflect 100% going forward. In the past, there was an arrangement to use 95% and sometimes lower, like 80% on a mobile home.”

Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran was then called upon by Foster to make a suggestion of a policy change to the board. Cochran then went on to explain a recommended policy that the Depart. of Revenue uses to put incomplete houses on the digest.

Currently in Fannin a house is not put on the digest until it reached 60% complete. With the policy that was passed after Nathan Henson made a motion, homes will be put on the digest when they reach 20%.

Henson stated,

“This is a better way of tracking and getting it (property) on the books.”

Once the motion was passed Foster took back over the meeting. He informed the board of several housekeeping items that had been taken care of. One of the bigger noted items was that each person now had a secure Wingap password and changes could be tracked.

Foster went over the office budget and at 42.24% of the year complete the office had used 36.89%. “The budget is in good shape,” said Foster.

The last three items that Foster would go over were major houses and shopping centers that were found to never be on the digest.

The $2,000,000 dollar house that was brought up in the court case is now has a listed value $1,031,058 on the property card. Due to the fact this structure was not on the property card it resulted in $43,608 actual lost tax dollars to the county.

The second structure that was built in 2006 was also missing from a property was put on the digest last week at $158,796 showing an actual loss of $7,321 dollars since the home was built.

The final find was the shopping center that is located adjacent to Roses that was built in 2008 was finally added to the digest this past December. With this property not on the digest the county lost nearly $30,000 actual dollars.

Just with the three pieces added to the digest the county will collect over $15,000 in actual tax dollars.

After Foster read his report Chairman Bishop said,

“I would like to thank you for what you have done and what you will do.”

Chief Appraiser Cochran took over the meeting and went over appraisal schedule and other pieces of the digest to get the new board up to date. During Cochran’s review she would state,

“After yall took over we met with the staff and he (Foster) wanted to know where we are at? What do you still have to do? What still needs to be put in? What still needs to be field checked?”

With the meeting running, it seemed as if Foster and Cochran were equals in charge. A new comer would have been confused on who runs the office. According to the law Cochran can hire an office supervisor and that person would take instruction from her or the BOA.

This point was brought up when concerned citizen Sam Walker stood up stating that Mr Foster was not in a legal position. He questioned the board, If you hired someone to do the job, Ms. Cochran, why did you hire someone to watch over her? Do you not trust her? If you don’t have faith in her abilities why did you hire her?

During a Fannin County Commissioner’s meeting Post Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee asked about the pay of Mr. Foster.

“What gives him (Foster) the qualifications to be payed a level 3 (appraiser) pay.”

Bishop said they set the pay to what a supervisor should have in the office. Bishop would state,

“We pay him on the low end. We definitely need a office supervisor.”

Foster is receiving $18.95 an hour for his services.

Walker also stated that the board should and needs to legally appoint a secretary that works within the Tax Assessors office.

Sonia Smith is temporarily being the secretary. The law does state the BOA needs to appoint a secretary from within the office. When will this take place?

At the end of public comment, Chairman Bishop told the group thanks for their comments and answered no questions.

FYN spoke with Gilmer County Chief Appraiser Richard Lamb and he verified that Lori Galloway has been hired as a field appraiser.

The BOA is set to have another meeting Friday at 4.

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