State should update appraisal contract rules

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 6, 2001

A circuit judge’s ruling Thursday that it is legal for theMadison County Board of Supervisors to hire an appraisal firmwithout advertising for bids has a far-reaching affect acrossMississippi. County officials across the state breathed a sigh ofrelief, as the opposite ruling would have forced the counties toconduct new appraisals.

The question raised by the Attorney General and the StateAuditor was whether county boards of supervisors are allowed tohire an appraisal firm without advertising for competitivebids.

Madison County Circuit Judge Samac Richardson says state law notonly does not require bids, but also does not require appraisers tobe licensed or certified!

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Not to criticize Judge Richardson for he is simply interpretingthe law, which he said in his ruling is ambiguous, or countysupervisors, who were following the law — but something isterribly wrong here.

When government entities are allowed to spend taxpayer dollarson something as important as property reappraisal withoutcompetitive bids, how can taxpayers be sure that their money isbeing spent wisely and properly? When state law does not requireany qualifications to conduct those appraisals, how can propertyowners feel comfortable with the outcome?

We know that no one would ever think of abusing such a loopholefor their own personal gain, or even consider kicking back funds toofficials who might be persuaded to hire them . . . but just incase, the legislature needs to remove the temptation.

We suggest that state law require appraisal contracts be subjectto competitive bids with the requirement that appraisers belicensed and certified. While property owners still may disagreewith values placed on their property, they will at least be assuredeverything is above-board and honest, and the individuals doing theappraising are knowledgeable and competent to do the work.