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Editor Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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This online news website is owned and operated by Becky Watts. The Editor can be reached at 770-468-7583 or at editor(at)PikeCountyTimes(dot)com. Pike County Times is a website for citizens to keep up with local events and stay informed about Pike County government. It began on November 13, 2006 as a watchdog on county government and has turned into an online newspaper.

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ZEBULON - This meeting was held at the EMA Building located at 132 Twin Oaks Road, Williamson. (Across from the Parks & Rec Ballfields and in front of Public Works)

In attendence were Board Members Kristen Cudnohufsky, Chair Lynn Smith, Vice Chair Gary Hammock, Chief Appraiser Greg Hobbs, County Attorney Rob Morton, Appraiser Emily Morris to take the minutes, Citizen Tim Ingram, and Becky Watts from Pike County Times. County Manager Brandon Rogers came into the meeting a little later.

[Note from the Editor: Go to the county website www.pikecoga.com and click on Resources/the three lines on top of each other, then on Meetings and Agendas, and then scroll down below the place where you can input dates and times because each meeting will be listed by date and type below it. If you download the agenda for the meeting, you can see a lot of information prior the meeting.]

I. Call to Order

Called the meeting to order.

II. Approval of Agenda

Approved 3-0.

III. Invocation - Chief Appraiser Hobbs

IV. Pledge of Allegiance

V. Approval of Minutes

Approved with a correction 3-0.

VI. Public Comment (w/5 minute time limit per person)


VII. Invited Guests. None.

VIII. Chief Appraiser Report

Greg gave an update on appeals as follows:

252 active appeals. 230 sent a 30 day notice. 698 resolved. 148 waived. 4 withdrawn. We will continue to work through these.

Susan Boggs is part-time at Planning and Development and currently helps in the Tax Assessor office about 3-4 hours one day a week. Wants to help with clerical duties 8 hours a week in the Tax Assessor Office. Asked the Board to allow this.

$259 each for the 2 computers that need to be replaced.

Said that Eagle View has given a quote the Board of Assessors for a flyover of the county. It expires at the end of the month but was given for the current year. They fly these when there are no leaves on the trees. He expects that to be in the next budget and needs to be done on a regular basis. The last county flyover for mapping was done in 2012. Things have changed tremendously since then.

Kristen suggested at least 3 quotes from 3 companies. Rob. Will be working on the budgets soon with approval in May. Need 3 quotes by the end of January so it can be included.

Greg. Taxpayers upset with bills. Handling them the best that we can.

CM Rogers entered the meeting. 11:12 a.m.

IX. Old Business. None.

X. New Business.

1. Approval/Denial 2024 Board of Assessor’s Meeting Schedule

Greg. We’ve been having these meetings at 11 a.m. but said that it’s hard to walk into the January 2 meeting and be ready right after the holiday. Asking for the January meetings be on first and third Thursdays at 11 a.m. Kristin will be in class on the 23rd. MLK Day is the second meeting of the month which is a holiday. Asked to approve 1st and 3rd Tuesdays for the rest of year.

Kristen. What about moving one meeting a month to an evening so citizens can come? She said that meetings interrupt the office to meet in the middle of the morning. Lynn. We can think about this and decide at the next meeting. Gary. This would need to be approved on a month to month basis. Lynn and Gary discussed having something in paper so citizens can request this. Kristen. Many are working that are her age. Said that she wants a once a month evening and morning meeting. Lynn. Let’s discuss this more about night meetings at the next meeting.

Motion to postpone this discussion of the schedule to the next meeting. Approved 2-1 with Gary opposed.

1. Approval/Denial of 2023 Appeals with Fair Market Value Revision(s)

Motion to approve. Discussion. Lynn. I’m not comfortable with the way this is being done. Some of these are being dropped $77,000 and $200,000 and I don’t understand why. He was advised that this is under 30%. Kristen. Thinks what Lynn is trying to see more information prior to the meeting. Greg. Square footage that was incorrect can be an issue.

Discussion about visiting every property in the county. Greg said that this county hasn’t visited every property that he has ever known. Going to get 3 bids from 3 appraisal companies to do this for the county because we don’t have a staff, we don’t have the money, we don’t have the time. Said that we would need at least 6 appraisers in the field every day. Lynn. Why would they expect to do this if we don’t have the staff to do what they want?

Kristen. Have you received anything from the Department of Revenue about the penalty on our Digest? Greg. No. The school board and county commission would get notification.

Kristen. How many are on staff who can go out to properties? 4 right now. How often are all 4 out in the field? Basically every day. But not everyone at once because someone who is trained has to be in the office to answer questions. She said that this needs to be discussed in executive session.

This item was called for a vote and was not approved. 2 abstained because not enough information. 1-0-2 with Lynn and Kristen abstaining from voting on this. This did not pass.

Lynn. I want everyone in Pike County to be treated fair. Said that he saw someone on the computer who bought a $500,000 plus house last year and now it’s appraised at $267,000. Greg asked for information about this because you’re asking me questions that I can’t answer. Lynn. There is no consistency to what I’m looking at on the computer. House built in 1990 with a house in 1986 that is ¼ mile from it just about identical with square footage and the older one is appraised at over $600,000.

Gary. We are not doing fee appraisals with someone who researches everything on one particular area and the sales in that area. We are doing a mass appraisal here that needs to run by schedules and lists of different properties, etc. If it fits in an area, that is how the value is done. This isn’t a fee appraisal type with a single item. This is a bunch of properties that are done at one time by the appraiser who is doing the appraising by schedules.

Greg said of the people in this particular item, These people have agreed to these amounts.

Kristen. We’re getting a spreadsheet and not the signed paperwork that shows where these people have agreed. She wants to see this.

She is concerned about the mass amount of error that she has seen before she was a member and now as a member of this board. You’re technically supposed to be working on a schedule and doing 1/3 of the county in appraisals every year. If we were doing that, it would have catch errors. Someone would be laying eyes on every property every 3 years to mitigate error. Gary. It isn’t going to happen. Kristen. It happens in other counties, and it helps reduce errors. We need a plan to make it run better.

Greg. He expressed frustration with staffing over the past several years with people getting trained and leaving, but said that we’ve got a good group now and trying to hire someone else now.

Gary. According to the law as long as you use the same schedule for everyone, it’s fair and equal for mass appraisals. Fee appraisals are different and much more expensive.

Kristen made a motion to go into executive session to discuss personnel. Gary said no, and we will get to it when the time comes. We need to get through this meeting. [Note from the Editor: Listening to the tape, I heard Rob said that this motion failed. There wasn’t a call for a second that I heard, but I could be wrong. I just heard Gary saying that it wasn’t going to happen, and it didn't get circled back around to for a full vote.]

Gary then complained that Kristen and Lynn are wanting to have a discussion on everything and that just isn’t going to be. Lynn. When do we need to have it (as in discussion)? Gary. It’s not necessary for what we are discussing. More discussion. Lynn. We’re supposed to just ok everything brought to us?

Rob pulled things back under control and gave the county attorney opinion on legality by addressing concerns. There are certain ways of valuing things under the law and a way for property owners to appeal if they don’t like the appraisal. The process of having a spreadsheet was started a couple of years ago with the Tax Assessor Board to streamline meetings. There is a lot involved in this including what people will pay, etc. As long as you are following what the state says, you are following the rules.

You are wanting more documentation on this from what I’m hearing for this, correct? Partially what they are wanting, yes.

He then said that there is an appeal process if needed to catch errors. Did this board follow state guidelines to get there is the main issue here. If this staff uses the same methodology with a state approved process for everyone then they are using a uniform, equal process even if it isn’t exact for every single person. He then explained that what the chief appraiser has brought to you is within state guidelines and has been approved by the owners.

Bethesda out of Thomaston had a contract to do this for us over the past couple of years with on foot and electronic files. Kristin. The electronic files may be antiquated. How can Bethesda do its job well with antiquated information. Greg. He did 2020, 2021, and 2022 for us. He looked at sales and applied it to all the properties equally around the county with his tables and schedules.

Gary. The meeting is not the place to get educated. The best way is to be in the office and go to school to know what you’re talking about. This is just the way it is. It has always been this way and how the law asks us how to do things. The only way to change it is to go to Atlanta (to fix it at the legislature) or go home.

[Note from the Editor: At this point, there was a motion on the floor that had not been given an opportunity for a second due to the immense amount of discussion, heated disagreement from one member, and a brand new chairman who is still learning the ropes. Things happen, but I have to point this out to readers because it has bearing on what happens next.]

Back to the question of whether to approve or deny the 2023 Appeal list that they had been presented. Greg. We had 1,300 appeals. We’re under 250 now. These people have agreed to these numbers and are willing to pay their taxes.

Motion to approve or deny. Motion to approve. 2-0-1 with Kristen abstaining due to lack of information.

2. Approval/Denial Personal Property.

Motion to approve. Approved 2-0-1 with Kristen abstaining.

Greg asked what the board wants for more information so you can make an informed decision. Kristin. I would like to see a packet of before and after. She can even come to the office to look at it if it’s easier.

Greg. He feels like he and his office are being accused, but if tax payers don’t file a return to say that something is wrong, that’s a problem. [Note from the Editor: At this point, there is a ton of discussion and people talking over each other, and it's pretty heated.]

Kristen. Asked for everyone's attention and then said, I resign. I feel like I’ve done nothing but bring chaos to this board. I am passionate about this county. I think I could help more as a citizen than I can being on this board. Greg. I don’t want you to do that. Kristen. I got involved on this board because of the “significant errors” I found on my property. Greg and I met because of errors on my properties. Bethesda had her plat wrong. She brought it to Greg’s attention, he answered her questions, and he made it right.

But if you’re working with antiquated records, no matter where you start, your result is going to be inaccurate. She is concerned with working with 10 year old records. I will not be a part of sending inaccurate information to the Department of Revenue. Not going to be a part of debates on this. Thank you for your time and understanding and listening to me.

Lynn. Why don’t you think about it? Kristen. No. I’ve thought about it. She left with a plea to get things updated for the county.

We don’t have a quorum. There are 3 vacancies.

Lynn. I think you just lost a person who could have been a lot of help. We didn’t even give her a chance to go to school. Gary. The meeting isn’t a place to get educated. A meeting is a place to do business.

Meeting is adjourned without a vote at 11:57 a.m.

[Note from the Editor: Because Kristen's resignation was verbal, she needed to send in a written resignation in order for it to be binding. And, even then as we saw with our Planning and Zoning Director, a written resignation can be easily resinded. On December 6, 2023, Kristen rescinded her resignation with an email to the county.

At this point, there are two open seats on the Board of Assessors that will be addressed in tomorrow's county commission meeting. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Assessors is set for Tuesday, December 19 at 11 a.m. in the EMA Building. There should be time prior to that meeting for the two newly appointed members (if the BOC appoints members tomorrow) to be sworn in and receive a copy of the Board of Assessors Policy and Procedures Manual so they will have an idea of what they are walking into on Tuesday.

I sincerely hope that the next meeting (and every one after that) will be more answering of member questions and members working together as a board for the good of our community. There was a lot of frustration on all sides from this meeting, but the raising of voices in frustration and my way or the highway attitude needs to go away. This board could be phenomenal for our community if all members can find a way to work together.

Thank you to Greg for asking what his office could do to help Kristen be able to actually vote rather than abstain too. There is transparency in that and the tremendous amount of effort the Tax Assessor's Office is making to get things online just like the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioner's offices are doing prior to meetings. Transparency in government is always a good thing in my book.]


Here are links to past meetings that Pike County Times has attended.




BOARD OF ASSESSORS REGULAR MEETING - September 19, 2023 - 11:00 AM


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