Mortgage failures, financial meltdowns, property values plummeting and bailouts, all in recent Times headlines. Congress recognizes the problems, and so do the president, economists, the American people and most of the world.
Yet for those of us who have read our recent property tax bills in detail, it is clear that the Hall County tax office does not. Not only are taxes up, but many property owners who were reappraised last year were reappraised again this year. In 30 years this is the first time I have been reappraised two years in a row. Why?
At first I thought it was a mistake. I had appealed last year's appraisal and it had been reduced. A call to the assessor's office resulted in being told that they only go by what the tax appraisers office sends them.
Contacting the appraisers office revealed the problem. The appraiser had changed the method of assessment for this year wherein 5-acre and larger lots had their land values readjusted to coincide with the latest and highest sales price of land sold in their respective areas. He stated that he could reappraise property every year if he wanted. He cited the Georgia code on Ad Valorem taxes as his authority so to do. When he was asked about the intended usage for this recent land sale that he had used as a basis he stated that: "I have no idea."
The Georgia code is available to anyone with access to an Internet search engine or willing to make a trip to the Gainesville law library. Section 48-5-2 is the authority for ad valorem taxation of property. The code is written in common language and the words have their ordinary meaning.
Two actions can result in an appraisal increase. The first is an improvement on the property and the second is a sale of like property intended for the same usage as the property being reappraised. Since the appraiser "has no idea" what the big land sale usage will be, it is invalid to be used for reappraising family residences under "current use value."
My last appraisal, in my view, violates the definition of terms spelled out in this section of the Georgia code. Further, there is no mention of five acres in 48-5-2. If this method of appraising is left unchecked, a disaster worse than the mortgage crisis is inevitable.
Unfortunately, the taxpayer can do nothing about it. Only the state legislature has oversight of the code. The bad news continues in that only Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson is willing to face up to the wrongs in this code. No elected state representative or senator from Hall County will even listen about this problem, let alone do anything.
The good news is we can vote them all out of office this November.
Letter critical of tax assessors is unfounded
I'm writing this letter in response to Paul Barnes' Saturday letter. I have been on the tax assessors board since Sept. 1 and I attended the meetings during August in order to learn what my duties would be. I want to say everybody in this office has operated with a degree of professionalism not often seen even in the corporate world.
As to their receiving health benefits, Mr. Barnes, that is not a decision that they could have extended to themselves. That would most likely have come from county administration. If I had worked the days that I had been paid for, I would not have given it back, either. It had not been the policy for these folks to see their timesheets. That was probably the only thing these men were negligent of.
I have known Terrell Gaines and his wife for many years and have done business with them in the past and I had billings errors in their favor and every time it was brought to my attention. I have known of Mr. Vaughn for a long time and everything I have seen since being on the board is consistent with other members of his family whom I have great admiration.
Mr. Barnes, these folks have not been found guilty of any wrong doing and I think your criticism is wrong. In Georgia we have been plunged into debt by politicians spending to much money. They call it a shortfall. We've got politicians taking PAC money from entities they are supposed to have oversight over.
Please channel your energies to these real problems and leave these honorable men alone.
Perhaps yard sign was too close to the road
In Saturday's edition, Jim Pendleton lamented that his political sign was stolen out of his yard. He admitted placing it close to the road. Jim, could it be that said sign was not on your property but on the right of way which you do not own. Generally, the right of way for a road extends 30 feet from the center line on a two lane road and more on a four lane road.
If this is the case, your sign was not stolen. It very well could have been picked up by the county, or city workers.
George C. Kaulbach
Not all veterans here are supporting McCain
As a subscriber, I take issue with the accuracy of your recent Sunday article touting the support of Georgia veterans for Sen. John McCain. There is an active Georgia Veterans for Obama organization in this state. While the individuals portrayed in your article offered their personal support for McCain, national veterans' organizations have not found the senator to be very supportive of veterans. Recently, he dismissed a veteran as "ground noise" and "static" when the veteran challenged McCain's record of nonsupport for veteran's issues. Compare that with McCain's pandering performance during the last debate.
It is true that the young naval aviator McCain ejected from his damaged jet over Hanoi in 1967. It is true that he is the son of Admiral McCain and his captors tried to use that fact for their propaganda purposes. It is true that he was captured, tortured and eventually agreed to say what his Vietnamese captors demanded.
Certainly, once captured, he had no choice except to suffer at the hands of his captors. His resistance to torture and support for his fellow prisoners certainly demonstrates tenacity and determination and it is undiminished even though he eventually did capitulate.
It is undisputed that McCain was called to duty by this nation, went in harm's way and suffered greatly as a result. Sadly, Sen. McCain's experiences have failed to persuade him to properly and sufficiently support veteran's issues and needs. McCain has spent 26 years in Washington demonstrating that he cares very little for veterans or their needs. For all the reasons, this veteran and thousands of others support Barack Obama.
Michael C. Ford