Board of Assessors again questions 2018 budget

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Assessors (BOA) discussed the department’s proposed 2018 budget one last time at their regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, ahead of the final adoption of the entire county budget later that evening during the Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting.

At a Nov. 29 called meeting of the assessors, the assessors agreed to speak individually with BOC Chairman Stan Helton and post commissioners Earl Johnson and Larry Joe Sosebee about potential cuts by the BOC to the assessors requested 2018 budget.

Chief Appraiser Dawn Cochran reported to the Board of Assessors Tuesday those meetings did take place since the Nov. 29 called meeting and that she had a chance to explain her concerns to the BOC.

“Both post commissioners were willing to review these line items (of the budget) with myself, and after both meetings, the post commissioners stated that they would get with (County Finance Director) Robin Gazaway and go from there,” Cochran told the assessors.

Cochran further explained she along with Board of Assessors Chairman Lane Bishop met with Helton and Gazaway about the proposed budget again Dec. 11.

“That meeting resulted in Mr. Helton stating that his position was to leave the budget just as was recommended (by the BOC) and that if the Board of Assessors run into any issues with their budget in 2018 that they can come back to the Board of Commissioners at that time and revisit the budget needs,” Cochran continued.

As in the Nov. 29 assessors meeting, Bishop again brought up the need for an additional vehicle to be added to the assessors fleet and the additional 10,000 parcels yet to be assessed by the department across the county. The assessors requested $40,000 in capital outlay for 2018, $22,000 of which was hoped to be used to purchase another vehicle. The commissioners recommended amount for this line item was $15,000.

“We are being unfair to the rest of the taxpayers of Fannin County that have gone through these appeals and that we’ve gone out to visit … This other 10,000 – they’re going to (be appraised). We’re going to do it,” Bishop stated.

To this, Cochran agreed that assessing the remaining 10,000 parcels would not only add to the county tax digest but also provide uniform treatment to all county taxpayers.

Assessor Anthony Holloway inquired about the cut in capital outlay and the $21,000 cut in education to the department from the requested amount and asked, “So, the cuts that they (BOC) have proposed … how do you deal with that?”

“Right now, I don’t know how we’re going to handle it,” Cochran replied.

After this, Bishop stated he was told by the BOC to “make do with you’ve got. That’s exactly what we were told … That’s sort of a flippant kind of answer.”

The final approved budget for the Board of Assessors for 2018, as approved by the commissioners, is $848,265. The assessors requested budget was $977,370.

Also, during the assessors meeting, Cochran presented a draft of the department’s revised locked gate/access denied policy for approval by the Board, but after Bishop inquired whether the draft had been forwarded to County Attorney Lynn Doss for review, Cochran explained the policy was not yet given to Doss. The Board then tabled the approval of the policy so as to give Doss a chance to review it and decided to revisit the policy again afterwards.

The draft of the proposed policy contains four steps. Once approved, upon first visit to a parcel, a door knocker complete with date, appraiser and reason for the visit would be hung at the gate of the parcel. After that, a phone call to the legal owner of the property would be made, if possible. If no contact can be made at that point, a certified letter would be mailed to the property owner again requesting access. Finally, if the department still does not receive a response, the assessors would utilize any information, such as aerial photography, building and/or septic permits and real estate ads and/or listings, to estimate a value for all structures on the property.

The Board also approved the 2017 pre-bill digest for mobile homes and approved that digest’s upload to Harris Govern, the computer software vendor of the Fannin County Tax Commissioners office. According the information presented by Cochran to the assessors, the total count of mobile homes in Fannin is 1,193 for a total fair market value of $13,346,429.

Approval of upload and mailing of the 2018 personal property reporting forms was given by the assessors. Cochran explained the reporting forms are sent out to business owners or owners of boats or airplanes at the end of each year, and that these taxpayers are responsible for returning the forms to the assessors office. According to Cochran, the assessors office utilizes an independent vendor to print and mail out the forms to taxpayers, and the cost of using the vendor will be $2,996 for 2018, which is the same amount as in 2017.

BOA Chairman Bishop also addressed the recent public hearing on the potential school tax exemption for seniors held Nov. 16 in the jury assembly room of the Fannin County Courthouse, at which Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston and state Senator Steve Gooch heard from opponents and supporters of the potential exemption. Bishop explained there were already three types of tax breaks in place for senior taxpayers based on age and income qualifications of which he feared taxpayers are unaware. The chairman directed Cochran to draft a press release to give to the media detailing the three avenues of tax relief already available to seniors.

The assessors approved a number of invoices, one of which was $1,739.97 for the purchase orders of three new iPad Pros. Cochran stated one of the new iPads would be added to the department’s inventory while the other two would replace existing iPads. Also, protective cases for the iPads were purchased for $292. Additionally, approval was made for the final payment of $13,297.50 for 2017 to Data Cloud for technical and maintenance support for the handheld iPads used by field appraisers.

The department also approved an expenditure of $9,271.50 for upgrades to the Data Cloud system, advanced mapping and six new laser distance measurers. The Leica Disto E7500i 650-foot laser measurers, Cochran said, would be an upgrade for the department from the traditional 200-foot tape measures currently be used by field appraisers. The expenditure will come from the 2017 tax assessors capital outlay fund.

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Fourth Meeting of the Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee

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ATLANTA (October 11, 2016) | The fourth meeting of the Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in Dahlonega, GA at University of North Georgia.

The Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 876. Five members of the Senate and five members of the House serve on the committee, co-chaired by Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) and Representative Don Parsons (R- Marietta). They are tasked with examining the conditions, needs, issues and problems of high-speed broadband internet access. The joint study committee is responsible for submitting a report of findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, by December 1, 2016.

Please review the attached agenda in preparation for the meeting.

WHO:               Members of the Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee

WHAT:             Fourth Study Committee Meeting

WHEN:            Thursday, October 13, 2016
9:00am

WHERE:          University of North Georgia- Dahlonega Campus

Banquet Hall- Top Floor

404 Georgia Circle (at the corner of West Main and Sunset)

Dahlonega, GA 30533

 

 

Advanced Voting Slow in White County Where Turnout is Less Than 5 Percent

News, Politics

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Advanced voter turnout is slow in White County but Chief Voter Registrar Lisa Manning says it is way ahead of where it was in 2012. But that’s only because there were no contested races in the 2012 General Primary. This year, there are three local races, including sheriff, county commission and school board.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, Chief Voter Registrar Lisa Manning said only 540 ballots had been cast or less than 5 percent of White County’s 13,415 active registered voters.

“The Sheriff’s race is the most heated race,” Manning said. “It’s the one that seems to be drawing the most interest.” Veteran Sheriff Neal Walden is being challenged by Aaron Autry.

In the District 4 County Commission race, incumbent Craig Bryant will face Shawn Henderson. In the Board of Education race, incumbent Kendyl Brock Hunter is being challenged by Missy Jarrard.

There is also an election for Ninth District Congress where incumbent Doug Collins of Gainesville has angered many conservatives when he voted for President Barack Obama’s Omnibus bill and supported John Boehner for Speaker of the House. As a result, he has drawn four challengers in former 10th District Congressman Paul Broun, Lanier Tea Part Patriots founder Mike Scupin, White County educator Roger Fitzpatrick and retired Army and National Guard Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine.

The lone state race on the ballot is for State Senate where incumbent Steve Gooch,who many consider an “establishment Republican,” is being challenged for re-election in the 51st District by John Williamson, co-founder of the Gilmer County Tea Party.

Advanced voting takes place at the Mauney Building, 1241 Helen Highway between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday voting will take place tomorrow.

Union County Republican Party / Union-Towns TEA Party 51st State Senate District, 9th Congressional District, and U.S. Senate Forum

Featured, Featured Stories, Politics

Union County Republican Party / Union -Towns TEA Party Forum 4/30/2016.

Scroll down to watch video of each forum.

forum moderator

Moderator Brian K. Pritchard

Republican U.S. Senate Candidates Dr. Mary Beth Bacallao and Mr. Derrick Grayson

john steve

51st District State Senate Republican Candidates John Williamson and Steve Gooch

9th group

Republican 9th District Congressional Candidates Roger Fitzpatrick, Paul Broun, Bernie Fontaine and Mike Scupin

 

Political Hopefuls Qualify This Week in Lumpkin County

News, Politics

DAHLONEGA, Ga. –It’s qualifying week for political hopefuls in Lumpkin County and all across Georgia. Incumbents and newcomers seeking public office must officially declare their candidacy between Monday, March 7 and Friday, March 11.

Qualifying will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Friday when qualifying ends at noon. Candidates are required to bring ID and qualifying fee to the Lumpkin County Elections Office.

Lumpkin County offices up for election include, County Commission Chairman, District 1 and 2 Commissioners, Tax Commissioner, Sheriff, Surveyor, Coroner and Board of Education District 1 and 3.

Candidates for state offices such as state representative and state senate must qualify in Atlanta. Dist. 9 State Representative Kevin Tanner will seek reelection to a third term while State Senator Steve Gooch will vie for a fourth. He represents the 51st District which includes Fannin, Union, Gilmer, Lumpkin, White, Dawson and parts of Pickens and Forsyth counties.

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