Update 2014-11-21: Brad Shealy from the District Attorney’s office called back. The reason there was no decision at day before yesterday’s Grand Jury meeting was there were no applicants. He said qualifications include you must be 18, a high school graduate, and a property owner, presumably meaning real estate. Plus you have to go to Tifton or Athens for a 40 hour course. Which he said is better than it used to be when the only location for the course was Athens: Tifton is close enough to drive up and back daily. If you want to serve, please contact the Clerk of Court (see below for her number).
When will new members be appointed to the Board of Equalization, who are the candidates, and how are people to know? Maybe you’d like to volunteer. If so, send your resume to the Clerk of Court (not the County Clerk). Apparently you have about two weeks.
As public comment on facebook by Becky Vaughn Herndon today:
Lowndes County is looking for volunteers to be members of the Board of Equalization (BOE). The purpose of the BOE is to hear property tax disputes between the Lowndes County Board of Assessors (BOA) and property owners. The board must not be biased towards the Lowndes County Assessor’s office or the taxpayer. It hears evidence from both sides and decides, based on the evidence presented, what the value of the contested property should be. The board may:
- Find the BOA evidence stronger and rule in favor of the county.
- Find that the taxpayer’s evidence is more persuasive and rule in favor of the taxpayer.
- Weigh the evidence presented by both sides and declare a value somewhere in between.
- Order a re-valuation of the area in which the property is located if a matter of uniformity is in question.
She continued with some opinions, then says the Grand Jury appoints the Board of Equalization, and this:
I was told the resumes need to be delivered to the county clerk by December 5th.
Why would resumes go to the County Clerk if the Grand Jury appoints the Board of Equalization? Shouldn’t they go to the Clerk of Court?
Why this is being passed around as a social media rumor instead of being posted by the relevant elected and appointed bodies, I don’t know. I cannot find any notice posted about these BOE openings on any of the relevant bodies’ websites.
The Lowndes County Tax Commissioner website has an explanation of what the BOE is:
The County Board of Equalization, appointed by the Grand Jury, is the body charged by law with hearing and adjudicating administrative appeals to property values and assessments made by the Board of Tax Assessors.
The Tax Assessors website adds:
(Note: An arbitration method of appeal is available to the taxpayer in lieu of an appeal to the board of equalization at the option of the taxpayer at the time the appeal is filed.)
The Clerk of Court’s web page doesn’t mention anything about that.
A search on the Lowndes County Commission website doesn’t find anything about any Board of Equalization.
The Tax Assessors do have an explanation of appeals to the BOE:
When the Board of Tax Assessors changes the value of property from the value in place for the preceding year or from the value that was returned by the taxpayer for the current year, a notice of change must be sent to the property owner. Upon receipt of this notice, the property owner desiring to appeal the change in value must do so within 45 days of the date of the notice. The appeal is filed with the Board of Tax Assessors, which reviews the appeal filed and informs the taxpayer of its decision. If the Board of Tax Assessors makes no changes, the appeal is automatically forwarded to the County Board of Equalization. A hearing is scheduled, conducted and the Board of Equalization renders its decision. If the taxpayer is still dissatisfied with the decision, an appeal to Superior Court may be made.
In lieu of an administrative appeal with the Board of Equalization, an arbitration method of appeal is also available to the taxpayer. The Board of Tax Assessors can provide details regarding this procedure. The assessment appeal may be made on the basis of taxability of the property, the value placed upon the property, or the uniformity of that value when compared to other similar properties in the county. The appeal must be filed within the applicable time period and cannot be filed after that time. Additionally, the appeal should not be based on any complaint regarding the amount of taxes levied on the property. For more information on the Appeals Process please go to:
Anyway, since this posting apparently started with Lowndes County District Attorney J. David Miller, I called his office to inquire. They said there was an ad in the newspaper, and referred me to the Clerk of Court to get a copy. Also that Brad Shealy, Chief ADA, would call me back. Plus there was a Grand Jury meeting “yesterday” at which they were going to decide, but instead they deferred until their December 5th meeting.
While waiting, I looked up the newspaper public notice:
The Valdosta Daily Times
BETH C. GREENE CLERK OF SUPERIOR, STATE AND JUVENILE COURTS LOWNDES COUNTY, GA
P.O. BOX 1349 VALDOSTA, GA 31603
Pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 48-5-311, at the September Term 2014 Grand Jury of Lowndes County, Georgia, to be held pursuant to Law on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. The following to be appointed by the Grand Jury, to wit: Lowndes County Board of Equalization, One Member to serve 2015, 2016, 2017 One Alternate Member to serve 2015, 2016, 2017.
Anyone interested in being so appointed should contact the District Attorney’s Office in writing before 12:00 Noon on November 17, 2014 P.O. Box 99, Valdosta, Georgia 31603. Attention: Board of Equalization.
BETH C. GREENE
Clerk of Superior Court
Lowndes County, Georgia
Note the application date of Nov 17th, which would fit with an original decision vote date of Nov 19th (yesterday).
I have also left a message with Beth Greene, Clerk of Court.
There could be some interesting cases before the BoE soon, considering the recent revaluation of Rural Land and Agricultural Improvements (Work Session 2014-06-23 and Regular Session 2014-06-24) and Commercial and Industrial Valuations Work Session 2014-10-27 and Regular Session 2014-10-28).
It’s worth noting that Lowndes County’s millage rate is on the low end among Georgia’s 159 counties, and lower any of the surrounding counties (Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Berrien, Lanier, and Echols). Even if you add in VLCIA (excuse me: VLDA)’s 1 mil and VLPRA’s 1.25 mil, the resulting 10.483 mils is still lower than any of the surrounding counties.
But if you want to volunteer to be on the Board of Equalization or know someone who does, there’s still time to get your resume to the Clerk of Court.