Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Commissioners Can Do, and What They Don't Do

I wanted to tell you about two recent experiences involving the county which tell me that there is much room for improvement when it comes to taxpayer/county customer service.

Now I know Helen Stone recently wrote a nice letter to the editor of the Savannah Morning News carefully explaining that she and the commission only appoint the 5 member Board of Assessors. The Tax Assessors office is not directly under the spell of the county commission so if your property taxes went way up this year (as most people's did) Helen can't help you.

First experience: of the properties we own, this year we received one change of value notice: last year the value was $314,500 and this year (2008) it was going up to $554,500, a 43% increase in one year! This is a commercial apartment building so no Stephens Day freeze. Another property, a 3 unit apartment on E. Gwinnett went from $314,500 to $513,500, a 39% one year increase and no Stephens Day freeze BUT WE NEVER RECEIVED A CHANGE OF VALUE NOTICE FOR THIS PROPERTY. This had happened a few years ago so I knew to check the website and there it was, a major increase and no notice to the taxpayer! You can't appeal what you don't know about. NoT rolling back the millage is considered a BACKDOOR TAX so this makes for a DOUBLE SLAP IN THE FACE. Helen, if you want to do something helpful, you could look into this type of county error and find some solution.

Second experience: Good friends asked me to help them appeal their giant value increases and I said I would only I could not go to the scheduled hearing dates. I had a letter prepared on behalf of the owners and faxed it to the Board of Equalization on July 26, 2008. When I called to see if they had received it, they said NO. We took to the BOE the fax transmittal log print out from the fax machine from which the letter was sent showing on 7/26/08 at 2:15 p.m. a fax was sent to 912.447.4955, the BOE fax number and the report "result" said OK. They told us to forget it! They couldn't care less if an activity report confirms a fax sent to them or not, they pretty much said there's no possible way they could misplace an important document. Uh huh. Helen Stone might could look into this and at a minimum ask the BOE have a little courtesy and flexibility for the overly burdened Chatham County taxpayer.

Better yet, this year the commission could have rolled the millage rate back but instead this commission passed along to taxpayers a huge BACKDOOR TAX INCREASE. (Remember though, Pete Liakakis thinks he hasn't raised your taxes.)

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