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Board continues property value review

With new year budget deadlines on the horizon, Lincoln Countysupervisors Friday continued their review of property valuesfollowing landowner objections during recent hearings.

Friday’s meeting to equalize property values was largelyunsuccessful, though, as supervisors were unable to adequatelydetermine what action was needed regarding various properties.Board President W.D. “Doug” Moak said there was some apparent”miscommunication” in how the county was pursuing the equalizationprocess.

“We came with gun in hand, but no bullets,” quipped Moak assupervisors ended the meeting.

Left on the table were two folders, both several inches thick,containing letters and other documents from property ownersobjecting to new values assigned during a state-mandatedreappraisal. The board heard from 159 citizens at the recenthearings, and other property owners allowed their objection lettersto stand on their own.

Chancery clerk’s and tax office personnel are expected tocompile the information in a spread sheet form for supervisors toconsider at a meeting Wednesday. Moak said he would like to be ableto compare properties’ old values, values following the appraisaland newly-adjusted values.

“We’re trying to put it in a form the board can do somethingwith,” said Tillmon Bishop, chancery clerk and countyadministrator, about the property value information.

Objecting property owners are to be notified regarding whateveraction is taken by the board. Moak indicated that supervisors wantto be thorough in their efforts to adjust property values.

“We’re not going to make any hasty decisions,” he said.

District 1 Supervisor Cliff Givens expressed concerns about newproperty values and how they were determined. During the last week,supervisors, appraisers and Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordantraveled the county to inspect selected areas and properties.

“There’s been some mistakes made and a lot of big mistakesmade,” Givens said, alluding to some values that had doubled,tripled or more. “This board’s doing everything we can to get themback in line as best we can.”

During the hearings, several citizens suggested the board throwout the entire new property value roll. District 2 Supervisor BobbyJ. Watts said he would like to.

“I feel like there were too many mistakes,” Watts said.

However, Board Attorney Bob Allen said tossing the roll is notan option.

“There no authority to do that,” Allen said.

Citing Sect. 27-35-131, Allen said the board may make line itemby line items changes and, under tax commission guidelines, add ordelete property as needed. But there is no rule to allow “acrossthe board” changes.

“It’s a property by property proposition,” Allen said.

Allen said it is also too late to use last year’s property valueroll. To do so, the board would have had to declare its intentionsin January.

Regarding value equalization, Allen said anyone who stilldisagrees with their assessment following board action may file anappeal in circuit court.

“That’s a safeguard built into the system,” said Allen, addingthat appeals would have to be on a parcel by parcel basis.

While they do not want to make hasty decisions, supervisors doneed to make some decisions fairly soon.

The board has to approve a final property value roll beforesupervisors can determine a property tax levy to fund new yearbudget needs. The city is in a similar situation in awaiting finalproperty values.

“We’re under a definite time constraint,” Bishop said.

A budget needs to be adopted and published by Sept. 15 beforethe new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Bishop reported good progress onspending plans, but revenue remains uncertain pending the propertyvalue action.

“We’re basically finished with the budget,” Bishop said. “Thebudget’s not been a hold up at all.”

Bishop said there were a few items left for supervisors toconsider, but so far the county was looking at an approximately 2percent overall spending increase for next year.

“The board and I have encouraged everyone to try and keep theirbudgets under 3 percent growth,” Bishop said.