Board concludes property hearings

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 13, 2001

Lincoln County supervisors concluded a week of property valuehearings Friday and are expected to act on property owners’objections this week.

During the week, supervisors heard from 159 citizens whoobjected to new values placed on their property followingstate-mandated reappraisal. A few objecting property owners did notappear for hearings and others allowed their letters of objectionto stand on their own.

“As a whole, everybody was extremely nice,” said TaxAssessor-Collector Nancy Jordan about the tone of last week’shearings. “I think the board has learned a lot about properties andhow they are appraised. That’s helped.”

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Supervisors took property owners’ objections under advisement toallow appraisers Wayne Herring, Steve Lott and others time toreview values.

“We’ll do the adjustments and bring them back before the board,”Jordan said.

The board recessed Friday’s meeting and should meet this week toformally act on objections. A meeting date has not been set

If values in an area are determined to be out of line, Jordansaid all property owners in the area would see adjustments.

“I want it to be fair for all,” Jordan said.

Jordan said she was finding some land values, more so than homesand buildings, to be out of line. She said downtown lots aroundFirst Street, due to high city and county purchases of property,Natchez Avenue and Zetus Road were areas of concern.

“That’s the part I’m having a problem with,” Jordan said.

Property owners will be notified by mail of whatever action theboard takes, county officials said.

Connley Moak, a local appraiser who spoke on behalf of a numberof property owners throughout the week, said he hoped the boardwill do “what’s right for the people.” He did not speak about boardaction, preferring to wait and see what equalization adjustmentsare made.

“I’m going to reserve a lot of opinion until that time,” Moaksaid. “I really hope we’ve done some good for the taxpayers.”

Moak sat in on many of the hearings and heard owners’objections. He said some were not very realistic and others werevery real.

“You’re going to have a certain number of people who are goingto object to everything,” Moak said. “I think the vast majority ofpeople had (valid) complaints.”

Moak was the last person supervisors heard from Friday when heobjected to values on several pieces of his own property.

Prior to his presentation, Moak was briefly questioned byHerring about his qualifications to do mass appraisals. Moak hadquestioned Herring earlier in the week about hisqualifications.

Moak, a state-certified fee appraiser, acknowledged he was notcertified by the state to do mass appraisals.

The questions from Herring, who is approved by the state TaxCommission for mass appraisal work but not the state Real EstateCommission, pointed out differences in how the two types ofappraisals are handled. The more-costly fee appraisals evaluatespecific individual properties “from A to Z” while mass appraisalsstrive to assign values on a less-detailed basis.

Other citizens who addressed the board Friday had concernssimilar to those from citizens earlier in the week.

Concerns ranged from individual property tax effects, whichofficials could not answer because of values uncertainty, topossible economic downturns.

“I’m sure this will have a negative economic impact on ourcounty,” said Hurricane Lake resident Robert L. Cambell as heobjected to his new property values.

In support of his request for an adjustment, Cambell showed anewspaper ad for property in his area. Over a few years, he saidthe asking price has steadily gone down without any sale, and heknew the owner would take less than his latest current askingprice.

Citing some past instances, Verbalee Watts objected to what shecalled a “picking and choosing” system of who pays taxes.

“This bothers me,” Watts said, mentioning cases where somepeople had their values raised and others in similar situations didnot.

Watts said five pieces of her property went up by 29 percent ormore.

“No disrespect … but there will be some more picking andchoosing in two or three years,” Watts told supervisors in anot-so-veiled reference to the election process.

District 5 Supervisor Gary Walker said he could see somemistakes had been made and he was very concerned about that. Hesaid he was worried about people who did not get property valueincrease notices or those who got the notices and disregardedthem.

“I wish if the people had any kind of question that they’d havecome in now instead of waiting until the tax notices are sent out,”Walker said.

After supervisors prepare their fiscal year 2002 budget and setthe tax levy millage rate, which must be done by Oct. 1, taxnotices will be sent out in December.

Despite a legislative move this year to increase the amount oftheir exemption, Walker said he was also concerned about seniorcitizens who may have to pay taxes as a result of the higherproperty values.

“If they’re on a fixed income, are they going to be able to payit,” Walker said.