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Taxing situation leaves much to be desired
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Dear Editor,

I write to you to share my recent experiences with the taxing authorities of Effingham County.

Last summer, I appealed the tax assessments on my home and a quarter-acre vacant lot I use as a garden from time to time. My house value was increased from $55,580 to $79,782 to $93,861 over the course of three years, or 60 percent; my garden spot went from $12,000 to $22,950 to $27,000, or a whooping 225 percent. The cost of yearly inflation is only about 3 percent. Go figure.

It took the tax office nearly a year from the date of my appeal to grant me a hearing. I lost. Perhaps my mistake was unknowingly using the lower valuations of tax office staff who live in my community as comparables.

Just this week, the tax office mails me the bill for the additional amount due from my 2007 taxes. What efficiency.

One candidate for tax commissioner taunts her experience — I am not so sure I would take pride in treating my fellow citizens to the folly I have personally experienced in trying to appeal my taxes. Another candidate talks about the amount of taxes we are paying — I was unaware that the tax commissioner set tax policy… perhaps this person should run for county commissioner instead. The third candidate is silent.

It is little wonder the county has a record-breaking multi-million-dollar surplus when the tax assessor’s office has been engaged in a wild spree of questionable adjustments. (An interesting postscript — tax assessments are going down next year, I hear, due to the same “market forces” that brought them up in 2007. I am glad to see that the tax assessor’s office is finally tuned into what the rest of us have known for a long time.)

I am retired and on a fixed income. My question for our elected officials in Springfield: how about giving us strapped citizens a tax refund?

At this point, all I can do is grin and bear it. I don’t see things getting much better in this county tax-wise anytime soon.

Pat Murphy