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Independent audit to examine tax assessors office

POSTED: December 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners has given Administrator Charley Nix the OK to pay an independent accounting firm to investigate the tax assessors office.

Nix said after consulting with Bates, Carter & Co. that total costs likely would be about $23,000.

The board of commissioners voted unanimously at its Thursday meeting to support the investigation. It is scheduled to start Monday and take about a month to complete.

"Our goal is to clear the air and put confidence back in the office," commission Chairman Tom Oliver said.

Oliver said he hopes the investigation will be thorough and perhaps lead the way to new procedures in the assessors office.

Bates, Carter & Co. will conduct a two-part investigation. First, the firm will look into financial records of Chief Appraiser Mike Henderson to determine if he received a homestead exemption on a property he did not live in and if he owes money to the county.

Nix said that investigation likely will take four to five days and cost $3,000.

Aside from Henderson, the county also wants the firm to evaluate the internal control systems within the tax assessors office, including interviews with key department personnel.

That investigation would take approximately one month and cost $20,000, Nix said.

"The objective is to get an independent look into the assessors," Nix said. "We need to line this stuff up and see what’s real and what’s not."

And though the investigation comes with a hefty price tag, Nix said he thinks it is well worth the cost.

"It’s a reasonable rate," Nix said. "At the end of it all, I think it’s money well spent."

The Board of Tax Assessors asked Nix to investigate Henderson at its Dec. 5 meeting.

Henderson was accused by the Hall County Citizens for Efficient Government, a local watchdog group, of receiving a homestead tax exemption on a property where he did not live and owing nearly $900 in back taxes to the county.



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