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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295.
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Editor Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Board of Tax Assessors Meeting - September 7, 2023

ZEBULON - The Pike County Board of Tax Assessors met on September 7, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the EMA Building down by Public Works. Members present were Hugh McAleer, Gary Hammock, Kristen Cudnohufsky, and Lyn Smith by phone. Jessica Rowell was unable to attend. Also present were County Clerk Angela Blount, County Manager Brandon Rogers, Tim Ingram, and Becky Watts.

Call to Order

Approval of the Agenda


Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of the August 22, 2023 Minutes

Tax Assessor Greg Hobbs opened the meeting. [Note from the Editor: I missed some of the discussion at the very beginning of the meeting. I came in as Hobbs was welcoming newly appointed member Kristen Cudnohufsky to the board.]

Hobbs. Described an issue that came up recently on the King property that was sold back in 2005. He wants everything to come to the Board and is going to take the address off of the property in Pike County because there is no house on that property.

County Clerk Angela Blount is present because there was a problem with Novis Agenda and getting the agenda written up with an old computer. She worked with Secretary Melissa Connell on this.

Would like to authorize the Adobe Pro program so things can be scanned and redacted as needed. It’s a $239 program. Are Novis and Adobe compatible? Yes.

Depreciation lifetime of the computers in the office? Brandon Rogers said 3-5 year schedule. All of the computers crashed and were replaced last year.

Hobbs. Sales Ratio Study. 229 sales. First day of 2022. Changed values for 2023 because they work a year in arrears. Changed some of the land schedules in 2022. Commercial in 2021. Land in 2022. Band aids in the past did not work. 2023 data will be a part of 2024. There were staffing issues in 2022.

Hobbs. The Department of Revenue (DOR) is coming to do the Digest Review next week. The DOR did a past review but did not give a copy to the Board of Assessors. Hobbs is going to track this down. One of things to consider is doing a complete and total evaluation because we were at 29.63% with our digest (which affects the public utility taxes that are paid to the county). The DOR says 36 to 44% but needs to be about 40%. Public utilities pay at 100% at 38%. Pay at 36% if 36%. [Note from the Editor: This is complicated, but the bottom line is that the state of Georgia requires an average level of assessment on property in the county to be between 36% and 44% in order for the county to receive public utility payments. And apparently every year, 1/3 of the counties in the entire state are reviewed to ensure that each county is meeting state guidelines. There are penalties that can come from properties not being assessed according to state guidelines though opportunities can be given to correct digest deficiencies. law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2022/title-48/chapter-5/article-5a/ has a ton of information on the ins and outs of this process according to state law.]

More discussion. The county paid for flyovers to map parcels in 2007 and 2013. Flyovers are supposed to be conducted every 5-7 years. Hobbs noted that this would be expensive. Question was asked, What about drone flight pictures instead? Possibly. Looking back, we should have made the changes last year. Cudnohufsky asked, Will they take into account that we tried to fix this? Including this year? Hobbs. Maybe.

Hammock. Digest was approved by the state for 2022. Hobbs. But the data for 2021 went into the 2022 numbers. Searched about the sales ratio study with those who fixed the problems and then things fell. The School Board appealed last year and are not going to appeal this year. The only ones who can fix this ratio are the school and the county commissioners.



1. Real property

There was a series of nine approval/denials that were presented. One was zero so no vote was needed, but in each of the approval votes, the vote was 3-0-1 with Cudnohufsky abstaining because she had not been provided with any paperwork prior to the meeting for review.

2. Personal Property

There was a series of three approval/denials that were presented. In each of the votes, the vote was 3-0-1 with Cudnohufsky abstaining because she had not been provided with any paperwork prior to the meeting for review.

No executive session.

Public comment.

I asked about the vote on the Adobe software and was told that there would be in the Board Members Report.

County Manager Brandon Rogers asked a question about the Digest Review. Hobbs advised that we’re at 733 active appeals but is not related to the digest review. Said that most of the people have gone with the recommendation, but there are no guarantees on the letters that are out right now. Said that the digest review is something done every 3 years by the Department of Revenue.

Discussion of the numbers and what would be needed for the millage rate to be set. Still below 8% for a digest from the 1,322 number of appeals. We’re at 13%. Trying to get the total number of appeals under 8% by the end of the month.

Rogers. Went back to the earlier conversation about flying the drone. Said that Mark Whitley might be able to help with this because he flies our roads with it. Hobbs. A lot of things have changed in 10 years. Current with the parcel count. Hobbs. Complete flyover was done in 2012 or 2013 and was turned over to Qpublic so they have been managing ever since.

Board Members Report.

Discussion: Hobbs. Letter from Tax Commissioners Donna Chapman. Her office has had its current system since 1999. She needs a new program to replace the Harris program because of several issues of late. She wants to use the same people as those who run the Wingap program and asked permission to combine all of the programs between the Tax Digest and the Tax Assessor. Wants to be on the same server. Wired Technology saw no issues with both being on the same server. Both systems on the same server would allow the sharing of the server system. This means that there is a need to reconfigure the server. Cudnohufsky asked whether there is a conflict of interest on this. She is concerned with the security protocol with county rules and the legality as to whether the two offices can be on the same server. McAleer suggested talking to the county attorney on this.

Hobbs then read a "Final Board Member Report" that was received from former board member Christopher Tea. It is included here verbatim.

“My time with the Pike County Board of Assessors has been an invaluable period of learning and professional development. It has been a pleasant experience, and I believe it has also been mutually beneficial.

With the conclusion of my most recent term, I would like to thank my fellow board members for their knowledge, tenacity and friendship. I feel honored to have worked with such an outstanding group of people.

I’d like to express my appreciation to the past and present office staff, with special note to Greg, Melissa and Emily for their excellent support and efforts to provide equitable treatment of Pike County tax payers. Our job ultimately is to determine every property owner's portion of the county budget. They excelled at that.

Moving forward, with the exception of our current Chairperson, no one on the board, to my knowledge, has direct real estate valuation experience. As such, I'd like to remind the board that several years ago, we entrusted the Chief Appraiser with the responsibility to handle value changes and assessments below a certain percentage, while bringing large changes, adjustments or atypical properties to our direct attention. We hired the chief appraiser for his knowledge, experience and competency in evaluating property values. I say this as every few years it seems questions are asked by new board members or outside entities as to why the board does not typically get into the day to day value questions.

Additionally, it is my hope that the board will stay abreast of the current compensation rates of the office staff. Retention of competent, hard working staff is paramount to a smooth running office. In order to stay competitive with nearby counties, as a board, we approved an updated fee schedule in 2022 and voted for specific staff pay increases earlier this year. Based on my most recent review of current office staff pay rates, it appears that an external force is blocking us from bringing our dedicated staff up to the recommended levels. I would recommend investigating and pursuing this. Specifically, the current pay rates of Melissa Connell, Dusty Williams, Emily Morris and Greg Hobbs do not appear to be up to the full levels they have earned and we have recommended.

And lastly, congratulations on the appointment of the new "life of the party" to the board (Yes, that was a county manager reference). You are most welcome and will find a competent group of friendly people willing to help with any questions you may have.

Many thanks for the experiences I have gained and best wishes for the future.

Christopher Tea”

[Note from the Editor: It sounds like an investigation should be conducted to determine whether or not the fee schedule that was voted on is being followed. If there is a discrepancy in the amounts that employees are being paid, the amounts need to be corrected and backpay given to ensure that employees are given the rate of pay that was voted on by the Tax Assessor Board. (Yes, I know that the county manager can backdate pay if needed because I have paperwork showing that was done with the Planning and Zoning Director's pay earlier this year. The same yardstick needs to be used to measure how everyone is treated is all I'm saying here.)

Side note: I have been to two of these meetings in the past month, but I haven’t been to a meeting of the Board of Assessors in probably close to 20 years before that. I am not an expert on any of this, and if I have gotten something incorrect, please call me so I can correct it in blue. I have learned a LOT about how evaluations are done in Pike County over the past couple of years, but I still don’t really understand this entire process.]

Motion to get the Adobe Pro. Discussion: Cudnohufsky. Where does the money come from? Supplies. 4-0 approved.

Motion to adjourn. 11:46 a.m.