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Terrell Gaines named chairman of tax assessors board

POSTED: November 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hall County Tax Assessors Board member Terrell Gaines has been named the tentative chairman of the Hall County Tax Assessors Board.

The new five-member tax assessors board, which grew from a three-member board to ensure better oversight, must approve the minutes of the Oct. 24 meeting at its Friday board meeting to finalize the appointment.

Gaines, a Gainesville resident who has served on the tax assessors board since January 1993, will take the place of former tax assessors board Chairman Emory Martin Jr. Gaines tentatively will serve as chairman of the board until January 2009, which would have been the end of Martin’s one-year term, according to Hall County Deputy Chief Appraiser Don Elrod.

Martin, who served on the tax assessors board since the late 1980s, resigned from the tax board Oct. 17.

Martin resigned following the conclusion of District Attorney Lee Darragh’s investigation into allegations against Martin accusing him of misappropriating more than $60,000 by padding per diem time sheets and taking $100 per day payment for days when he did not work. The district attorney ultimately decided not to pursue charges against Martin.

Allegations against Martin first surfaced in February, when retired chief appraiser James Cantrell, a longtime employee under Martin, came forward with claims that the board chairman padded his time sheets.

Lyman Martin and James Cantrell both worked in the Hall County Tax Assessors Office for more than 20 years and hired Gainesville attorney Ashley Bell in late 2007 to investigate Emory Martin Jr., as well as board members Terrell Gaines and William Vaughan.

Gaines said he has stated numerous times that he didn’t fill out any time sheets and denies any wrongdoing.

Since Martin’s resignation, three new members have been added to the tax assessors board to meet the requirements of the Hall County commission, which mandated the board have five members rather than three.

Whit Powell was appointed to the board to replace Emory Martin Jr. Bobby Hulsey and Vicki Cook also were appointed to the board, Gaines said.

"I think it was a good move," Gaines said of the larger board.

He also said he was glad the Hall County commission established a set pay rate for tax assessors board members.

"I think it was a good move to go ahead and fix the pay," he said. "Regardless of how many days you go in, we get paid $400 a month, except the chairman gets $450 (a month)."

Tom Oliver, chairman of the Hall County commission, said he believes Gaines will do "a good job" leading the tax assessors board.

"There’s challenges out there for this board and I think they’ll rise to those challenges," Oliver said. "I think it will be interesting to see how taxes come in this year."

Gaines said he welcomes the community to tax assessors board meetings. The next meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Hall County Tax Assessors Board Office in the joint administration building located at 300 Henry Ward Way.



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