This should be an easy question, but it isn’t. Why not?
And the answer is a saw sales owner who previously promoted development in an agricultural region of Lowndes County, a realtor whose job is to promote development, and a preacher who previously chaired a board that wanted to take tax money from the county without rural citizens being able to vote on it. None of them appear to have any experience in agriculture. These are the people who oversaw the recent revaluation of rural (and commercial) properties that would drive development into parts of Lowndes County that the Comprehensive Plan says should be agricultural. Now I know all three of them, and they’re fine people. But perhaps some rural people need to ask them some questions.
The list on lowndescounty.com of Lowndes County’s elected Tax Assessors is not remotely correct: Doyle Kelly is no longer serving due to illness, yet he’s still on that list, along with Mike Hill and W.G. Walker.
Mike Hill runs Mike Hill Real Estate
The Tax Assessors’ own website lists only two members:
W G Walker, Chairman
W G Walker
W.G. Walker has been an elected Lowndes County Commissioner and was a Planning Commisisoner until 2012, appointed by the city of Dasher. He has been re-elected repeatedly as a Tax Commissioner.
Billy Bruce, Valdosta Daily Times, 15 March 2008, Lowndes BOA say they’re qualified,
The three-member Lowndes County Board of Assessors (BOA) may be exempt from the annual training courses required of every other assessor in every county in the state.
But don’t tell them that makes them one bit less capable of doing the same work to manage the local tax digest.
Chairman Doyle Kelly and members Earl Wetherington and W.G. Walker aren’t buying it.
They say their independence from being under the authoritative thumbs of the elected Lowndes County Commission enables them to serve the citizens directly, without political interference.
Well, they don’t seem to be capable of listing their own membership on their own website.
That story also notes:
Chairman Doyle Kelly—Kelly, an insurance salesman, is in his 10th year on the BOA and was elected Nov. 3, 1998 after serving to finish the term of Ernie Nijem, who passed away. Besides the annual St. Simons training, and his 10 years on the BOA, Kelly completed the 40-hour certification for assessors course, a 20-hour exempt properties workshop and a 20-hour specialized assessments workshop.
- W. G. Walker — Walker is self-employed and owns Walker’s Saw Sales Inc. he claims 39 years of business experience; has served four years and is a current member of the Greater Lowndes County Planning Commission; and was elected to a four-year term on the Lowndes County Commission in 1993. He was elected to the BOA in 2004 and is completing his first term. He has completed 40 hours of training in assessment fundamentals for appraisers.
Walker told me some time back that when he was on the County Commission he promoted and almost succeeded in implementing a plan to run county water and sewer all the way from Hahira to Moody Air Force Base. That would have massively promoted development in the agricultural area of northernmost Lowndes County.
For the identity of the current third Tax Assessor, we must turn to the VDT. Joe Adgie, VDT, 20 March 2015, Lowndes Board of Assessors recommends new assessor,
County assessors W.G. Walker and Mike Hill have sent a letter to local state representatives recommending the appointing of a new tax assessor for the county.
The new assessor would replace Doyle Kelly, who is resigning from his post March 31 due to health reasons.
The assessors recommended to state representatives Amy Carter, John Corbett, Dexter Sharper, Jason Shaw, and state senator Ellis Black that Leroy Butler be appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to replace Kelly….
“Mr. Butler is a person of integrity respected in Lowndes County, his resume is impressive and he has indicated a willingness to serve,” the letter says. “Equally important, he’s already familiar with the valuation of property in Lowndes County through his years as a Grand Jury appointee to the Lowndes County Board of Tax Equalization.”
Governor Nathan Deal, Executive Order, 28 May 2015, By the Governor,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED,
That Leroy Butler, Jr. of Lowndes County, Georgia is appointed as a member of the Lowndes County Board of Tax Assessors, for a term of office ending December 31, 2016, to succeed Doyle Kelly, who resigned.
This 28th day of May, 2015.
The new appointee is Rev. Leroy Butler, Jr., Minister & Elder of Woodlawn Forrest Church of Christ, 1515 N. Forrest Street, Valdosta, Georgia 31601.
He was the only county member outside Valdosta on the CUEE board that pushed school board “unification” back in 2011 (although his church is in the city). About school consolidation he said:
“We did no poll of individuals in the county, so we don’t have any; anything we say would be speculation.”
He also said, in another meeting:
We need to come up with some strategies whereby we get more parental involvement.
Which is great, but he added:
It takes money to do that. And that’s why I’m looking at CUEE.
The Lowndes County Board of Education unanimously voted to oppose school consolidation, one day after the Valdosta Board of Education voted 8 to 1 to oppose consolidation. And the voters of Valdosta (county citizens outside Valdosta didn’t get to vote) rejected consolidation 4 to 1.
The main issue is the recent revaluation of rural land ignored the Comprehensive Plan and any need to conserve agricultural land.
That revaluation was overseen by Tax Assessors none of whom appear to have any background in agriculture. Billy Bruce in that 2008 VDT story quoted then-Chairman of the Tax Assessors Doyle Kelly (who was still on that board when this revaluation started) as saying:
“If you are appointed, you are beholding to the people who appointed you. If you are elected, you answer to the people who elected you. That’s the only people we answer to. And that review comes up every four years.”
We’d like some answers from the current Tax Assessors, please.
If we wanted to live in Atlanta, we would. Not everyone wants every tree chopped down and every acre paved over in Lowndes County.