We, the Taxpayers, are alive and kicking.
You have not heard from us recently, we have been busy, busy attending the meetings of the County Commission and the Board of Tax Assessors. And we are also preparing for our court hearing on Jan. 5, at 9:30 a.m. in the Superior Court of Effingham County.
The hearing is in response to the filing of a petition, with the names of 261 Free Holders in Effingham, asking the court to remove three members of the Board of Tax Assessors. There is a law that allows citizens to seek this course of action when they feel that the board member(s) have not fulfilled their duty to assure that values placed on property in Effingham County meet the requirements of their legal duty. The law requires that the board “maintain assessments of property that are reasonably uniform and that are based on fair market value.”
The petition also calls attention to HB 233, passed in 2009 General Assembly and signed by the governor. This bill places a moratorium on raising values in 2009, this moratorium lasts until 2011.
By attending the meetings previously cited and by, as lay people, researching the law pertaining to the responsibilities of the Tax Assessors board and reviewing the Performance Review document recently completed by a Department of Revenue committee; we feel that there has been gross failure of this board to fulfill their duty and responsibility to the citizens of Effingham County.
Our petition asked for the removal of the following members: John Roberts, Marcus Kessler and Larry Weddle. Two new members (John Kieffer and Neal Kessler Jr.), appointed in October were not on the board when they approved values were set before them; therefore Kieffer and Kessler should remain on the board.
What effect our action can have on our presently billed taxes, we don’t know; a roll back to 2008 taking along all decreased values set in 2009, as the law allows in HB 233, would solve a lot of the short comings of the past operation of the board. The removal of the three members asked for in the petition would allow the appointment of three new members to look closely at their responsibility, and take corrective action in how these values are created and bring values to the level that the law requires: fair, equal and at fair-market-value.
If there are tax payers who would like join our group, we would welcome you. If you would like to contribute to the cause, we would appreciate that. As citizens, citizen members of “We, the Taxpayers” will present our case to the court. As citizens, we have to bear the cost of such action ourselves; while the board members have special counsel retained by the county and will have any expenses in court action paid by the county. Seems a little unfair doesn’t it? But we understand that the county has to provide this service to citizens they appoint to county boards.
One other thing we would urge citizens to do: put Jan 5 at 9:30 a.m. on your calendar and attend the court hearing. It will be an opportunity to see a good example of our democracy in action, citizens bringing to the bar of justice a government entity that the citizens believe have failed them in their fulfilling the letter and the intent of the law as the Board of Tax Assessors sets property values in Effingham County.
If you have any questions are wish to join us contact: Ruth Lee, phone 754-6730, 531 Chester Thomas Rd., Springfield, Ga. 31329 or at our email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please give us your address, phone number and email address. With your email address we can keep you advised of meetings and actions.