Citizens defend Tax Assessors

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – There was no shortage of comments as citizens filled the public commentary portion at the Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting to express their outrage over the recent handling of Chief Tax assessor Dawn Cochran.

After reading about the exchange between county commissioners and Cochran in local media, citizens of Fannin County spoke in defense of the Tax Assessors department.

Frank Moore of the Aska Road area was first to speak. Moore, an attorney, works on property tax appeals and has firsthand experience dealing with the Tax Assessors department and Cochran herself: “That is a very professional office.”

Appalled by the questioning of Cochran’s education by Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton, Moore expressed his opinion, “Whoever was asking that question makes me wonder where’s your MBA? Where’s their high degree of education that qualifies them to do anything?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Tax Assessors, Chief Appraiser, Dawn Cochran, GMASS, Georgia Mass Apprassial Solutions and Services, Public Commentary, Education, Frank Moore, Lane Bishop, Sonia Smith, Sandra Daugherty, Ralph Garner, Marcella Olsteen

Fannin County citizen Frank Moore spoke of his outrage over the recent handling of Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran.

Moore also expressed concerns over recent Board of Assessors (BOA) appointment Angelina Powell.

“And who’s the person that would actually put Angelina Powell on the Board of Assessors instead of that man right there?” Moore asked motioning to former BOA Chairman Lane Bishop.

At this point Helton put a stop to Moore’s questioning stating that Moore’s actions were boarding a personal attack, “We’re not here to criticize citizens like that. That’s out of line, so let’s move forward. Criticize me if you wish.”

“If anything I’m attacking the board for making that decision,” Moore replied to Helton, “I don’t know who made that decision, but it was a foolish decision.”

Others who spoke were just as angered as Moore over the questioning of Cochran’s education.

A former board member of the BOA, Sonia Smith, asked, “It’s not that you need an education to ask a question is it?” adding, “I believe her questions were educated. She wanted an answer to her question.”

Smith also stated that the commissioners’ behavior toward an employee could be very discouraging for other personnel who might now be intimidated to ask a question.

Sandra Daugherty of Sugarcreek agreed with Smith’s perceptions of the BOC possibly making it difficult for county employees to come to them with questions.

“To be clear everyone, I’m addressing you, Mr. Helton, and you, Mr. Johnson (Post 1 Commissioner), both as a human being and as a public official, you should both be ashamed of yourselves. Not only do you owe Dawn Cochran an apology, but you owe everyone sitting here that night an apology.”

Former BOA Chairman Lane Bishop was present to defend Cochran having worked with her for several years: “Dawn Cochran doesn’t have a formal degree as you so crudely pointed out, but she does have a PhD. It’s in honesty.”

Bishop accused the BOC of having a vendetta against the Tax Assessors department. Speaking directly to Chairman Helton, Lane stated, “You’re real vendetta against the Tax Assessors office is because you can’t control it.”

Lane elaborated further, “Also the fact, the new board three years ago fired Steve Stanley, your’s (Helton) and Larry Joe Sosebee’s friend. The good ol’ boy syndrome lives in Fannin County.”

“Maybe it’s time for the voters of Fannin County to consider a recall petition on you,” Bishop concluded his time, “a class action lawsuit and call the department of revenue on all three of our commissioners.”

Blue Ridge resident Ralph Garner reasoned, “Why tarnish the legacy of good that you (BOC) are doing with ugly behavior like that? A prolonged repetitious rant is out of order most any time.”

Marcella O’Steen of Epworth approached the matter on a more personal level stating that Dawn is someone’s mother, daughter and wife. O’Steen was unable to hold back anger as she stated of the situation: “If I were her (Cochran) husband, I would kick your a**!”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Board of Commissioners, Chairman, Post 1 Commissioner, Post 2 Commissioner, Stan Helton, Earl Johnson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Tax Assessors, Chief Appraiser, Dawn Cochran, GMASS, Georgia Mass Apprassial Solutions and Services, Public Commentary, Education, Frank Moore, Lane Bishop, Sonia Smith, Sandra Daugherty, Ralph Garner, Marcella Olsteen

Former BOA Chairman Lane Bishop accused commissioners of still using the “good ol’ boy” system.

After agreeing to discontinue the profanity, O’Steen was allowed to continue speaking. Unlike many of the other speakers who were focused solely on Helton and Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson, O’Steen also accused Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee of negative behavior in the meeting.

Sosebee who had previously complimented the Tax Assessors department during the June 12 meeting failed to take action making him just as guilty according to O’Steen: “Out of three men up here not one of you came to her defense.”

While people certainly expressed their outrage over the perceived treatment of Cochran, many were also displeased with the option that was presented of outsourcing some of the of the workload of the Tax Assessors office.

It was proposed at the June 12 BOC meeting to look into a contract with Georgia Mass Appraisal Solutions & Services (GMASS). In this contract, GMASS offers to appraise a third of the counties parcels each year for three years. This would keep the county in compliance with Georgia state standards.

The GMASS contract would cost taxpayers a total of $784,000 for three years of service. Chairman Helton pointed out that Fannin County’s total yearly budget for the Tax Assessors department is far more than surrounding counties, and this contract could be a way to alleviate some of the financial burden on the taxpayers of the county.

Helton clarified that he was not advocating to completely replace the tax assessors department: “You always need to have some local involvement and people there.”

“What they’re (tax assessors) not telling everyone, is they already are using this company(GMASS),” Johnson said of the proposed contract.

Chief Assessor Dawn Cochran did confirm that she had planned on asking for help in 2019 with approximately 13,000 parcels.

“No one voted to do it,” Johnson said explaining the proposed contract,”I’m all about saving the taxpayers money, but we’ve got a lot of research to do.”

“I have not had to raise the mileage. I didn’t get elected to look at the tax assessors. I got elected to save taxpayers money,” Johnson concluded his feeling about the public commentary.

Helton expressed a similar view to Johnson: “Fannin County taxpayers are contributing almost $1 million a year to fund our Tax assessors office. This is the highest budget in 10 Northeast Georgia counties, including Cherokee, NC. I think the citizens have a right to expect their Chairman to ask tough questions instead of worrying about my bedside manner.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Preparations for the 2018 General Election are taking place in Fannin County

Election, News, Politics

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Fannin County Board of Elections and Registration (BOEAR) continues to prepare for the upcoming elections in 2018.

Fannin County, Gerogia, Blue Ridge, General Election, Election 2018, Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Board of Education, Soil and Water Conservation, Post 2 Commissioner, Georgia Election Officials Association, GEOA, Voter Registrars Association of Georgia, VRAG, Goergia House of Respresentatives, District 7, Margaret Williamson, David Ralston, Glenn Patterson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Damon Davenport, Mary Ann Conner, Sonia Smith, Richard Stanley

Margaret Williamson will face David Ralston in the Republican Primary for Georgia House of Representatives, District 7 seat.

With candidates, such as Glenn Patterson for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner and Margaret Williamson for Georgia House of Representatives District 7, already announcing their intentions to run in the scheduled May primaries, the BOEAR has much to prepare for this year.

The BOEAR will see new faces on their board as well this year. The board, composed of two appointed Democrats, two appointed Republicans and a fifth member decided by the appointed members, will all be up for reappointment this year having served their two-year terms.

One member that will not be seeking reappointment is John Baird. Baird having served on the board for two years will be leaving Fannin County in the near future. This will leave the Democratic seat held by Baird open for a new Democratic appointment to fill.

Members of the Board of Elections and Registration are nominated by their parties respectively, and then voted on within that party to fill the board.

Board members are preparing to attend the Georgia Election Officials Association (GEOA) and the Voter Registrars Association of Georgia (VRAG) joint conference held March 25 to 28 in Athens, Georgia.

Attendance to this conference in mandatory for two members of the board and will keep Fannin County in compliance with Georgia state law regarding elections.

BOEAR Vice Chairman Mary Ann Conner explained the need for the mandatory attendance saying, “We (BOEAR) have to have 12 hours of training each year on voter registration and the elections, and it certifies us to hold that election.”

“We usually go to two a year,” BOEAR Chairman Sonia Smith clarified. “This one will be combined.”

Conner added, “Because of all of the elections, this is the only way they (GEOA/VRAG) can do it during an election year.”

Fannin County, Gerogia, Blue Ridge, General Election, Election 2018, Fannin County Board of Commissioners, Board of Education, Soil and Water Conservation, Post 2 Commissioner, Georgia Election Officials Association, GEOA, Voter Registrars Association of Georgia, VRAG, Goergia House of Respresentatives, District 7, Margaret Williamson, David Ralston, Glenn Patterson, Larry Joe Sosebee, Damon Davenport, Mary Ann Conner, Sonia Smith, Richard Stanley

Glenn Patterson seeks a position as Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner.

The BOEAR also announced the proposed qualifying fees for county positions. These fees were later passed by the Board of Commissioners.

A fee of $349 is required to run for Fannin County Post 2 Commissioner, and $144 is required to run for a seat with the Board of Education. The qualifying period for these positions begins March 5 at 9 a.m. and will close on March 9 at noon.

A General Primary Election for both Republicans and Democrats will take place on May 22, 2018. Voter registration deadline for the Primary Election is April 23.

Winners of the primaries will face off in the General Election to be held on Nov. 6, 2018.

Another position that will be seen on the ballot in November is that of the Blue Ridge Mountain Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Soil and Water Conservation District is represented by two district supervisors. One of the supervisors is appointed to a two-year term while the other is elected to the position and serves a four-year term.

Currently, Fannin County is only represented by one district supervisor, Damon Davenport. Richard Stanley, the elected official, passed away in late September of 2017. The seat of the late Richard Stanley will be open to candidates in the 2018 election.

To fill the vacant seat within the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District, one must petition the state of Georgia and meet certain requirements to be put on the ballot.

Conner pointed out a change in requirements for this position, “They have upped the petition from 20 names to 25 names.” Names on this petition must be from registered voters and can be filed with the Fannin County Board of Registration and Elections.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Water Authority Makes Progress

Featured Stories, News

The Fannin County Water Authority held its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, October 16, 2013. (more…)

Author

MG

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