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Request for commercial tax assessment on hold

POSTED: November 11, 2012 10:56 a.m.
Photo by Randy C. Murray/

Chairman John McIver reads a plaque During Tuesday's Liberty County Commission meeting honoring Keep Liberty Beautiful Director Sara Swida, who recently was recognized by by the state for her work with KLB.

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The Liberty County Board of Commissioners heard an hour-long presentation Tuesday evening by Glenda Roberts, chief assessor with the Liberty County Board of Assessors. The board decided not to make any decision on her request to contract with a commercial tax-assessor company.
The issue for Commissioner Eddie Walden and Chairman John McIver was the request for a three-year contract, which would cost the county a total of $105,000. Roberts explained the contract is necessary because the county does not have a qualified commercial real-estate assessor, but needs an accurate assessment for the 2013 tax digest.
She said the county could be subject to fines by the state if property values are not accurate. She said the three-year contract with G.M.A.S.S., Inc. would include their assessors determining the fair-market value of commercial and industrial properties in the county while training her staff to be able to do the job by the end of the contract.
“We cannot make a decision tonight on a three-year contract,” McIver said. “I have to agree with Mr. Walden, too, why this board was not notified until now for something so important.”
Roberts said she could ask the company to work with the county on a one-year contract with an option for years two and three. County Administrator Joey Brown said he didn’t see how a tax assessor could complete an assessment of all the commercial and industrial property in one year.
Tax assessor Ezekiel Walthour asked to speak to the board in response to this concern. He supported Robert’s proposal, but suggested the county approve a two-year contract.
Walden stood by his expectation that by the end of a one-year contract, the county either would have someone hired or trained someone to assess commercial real estate. McIver said the board also could not approve a $75,000 contract that night. It had to be discussed further.
The board agreed to refer the request to the finance department and reconsider it at the next meeting.
In other business, the commissioners approved a request by Clenton Wells of the public-works department to replace an inoperable Kubota lawn tractor. The new tractor would cost about $82,000, but the company would allow a trade-in for the old tractor, leaving the county to finance more than $62,000 at 0 percent.
Also during the meeting, McIver recognized Keep Liberty Beautiful Director Sara Swida, who recently was honored by the state of Georgia for her work with KLB.
McIver also signed a proclamation declaring Nov. 11-17 National Geography Awareness Week. Hinesville geographic information systems technician Mike Johnson said GIS Day will be observed in city hall’s lobby from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov.14.
County Chief Financial Officer Kim McGlothlin presented the monthly finance report, noting that most departments are running within budget. She also told the board that sales-tax revenues are down.
County Attorney Kelly Davis reported there were no changes to the intergovernmental agreement and distribution of local-option sales-tax funds, and the board voted to approve both.
Pastor Hermon Scott asked the board to commit to helping the homeless in the county, while not specifying any particular funding. He wants the board to establish a committee to see what the county can do to help the homeless.
With some questions and a discussion by all commissioners present, McIver said he thought the county had the resources to partner with the Homeless Coalition to find funds to help the homeless outside of Hinesville.
Rachel Hatcher of the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission reviewed the Liberty County Gateway Beautification project, which would produce new, larger signs and improve landscaping at major gateways into Liberty County. Her report noted that funding for the project still is a major issue, given the county and municipalities’ budget problems.
A Rural Water System Operation and Maintenance presentation and new board appointments were not heard by the commissioners, who adjourned around 8:15 p.m. for an executive session about an undisclosed legal matter.

 

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