Hart County Property Owners' Association
ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE HCPOA BOARD
2011 From the Rear View Window
Perhaps a better subtitle for 2011 would be WHAT A RIDE! Last year’s annual report left readers in suspense, with the Board of Commissioners having appointed two new Board of Assessor members and asking for the resignations of BOA Chairman Jim McMullan and Chief Appraiser Rebecca Duncan. Hearings of 4,700 property tax appeals were just beginning. Following is a summary of significant events which occurred from that point:
* BOA Chairman McMullan resigned February 8, 2011.
* Lowell Macher elected as new BOA Chairman on February 10.
* BOC appointed Dr. William Capie to fill BOA vacancy created by McMullan’s departure.
* Chief Appraiser Rebecca Duncan and Associate Chief Appraiser Bruce Grant resigned effective immediately July 14 after a series of meetings with county officials.
* Oconee County appraiser J. Wayne Patrick was appointed as Duncan’s successor on July 18.
* The possibility of a computer hacker tampering with Commissioner Joey Dorsey’s property values caused the GBI to close the Assessors’ Office for 4 days in December to investigate.
* Two BOA members were not reappointed when their terms expired at the end of the year. The BOC selected Bobbie Busha and Jerry McHan to fill these positions.
HCPOA Activities in 2011
* Board members attended nearly every meeting of the BOA and BOC and periodically sat in on Board of Equalization appeals hearings.
* Appellants were contacted about Appeals Assistance Sessions held by HCPOA. Approximately 400 members of the public and HCPOA members attended one of the 12 sessions to learn how to interpret their property card and get pointers on preparing for a BOE hearing.
* Website updated frequently with appeals preparation information, newspaper articles, upcoming meeting notification, and HCPOA contact information. Check us out on http://hcpoa.info/
* HCPOA officers met with elected/appointed officials as necessary.
* Monthly meetings offered a variety of speakers and topics. Membership increased significantly.
* The HCPOA Board is opposing the adoption of a county ordinance regarding water well permitting which would affect both farm and private well construction. We have no objection to requiring tests for water safety but do oppose the concept of requiring governmental permission to construct a private well, on private land, using private funds, for private consumption.
* HCPOA has worked diligently to expose and correct errors and inequities of property taxation in Hart County. The BOC and the new BOA have made tough decisions toward that end and we will monitor the progress with optimism.
* Input from members has encouraged us to focus more attention on the Board of Education, as it represents approximately 75% of county property taxes.
WHAT’S THE CURRENT STATUS?
*A big question mark hangs over some issues. A month into 2012 there is still no report from the GBI regarding the alleged computer tampering incident. The new BOA staff continues to uncover problems which need attention but this hampers their ability to work on the 2010 and 2011 digests. There are still 2009 appeals to be heard. Taxpayers are confused about the meaning of temporary and final tax bills and millage rates.
*There is no question, however, about other developments. Mr. Patrick and his staff have brought positive changes to the Board of Assessors’ Office. The office atmosphere is customer service oriented, questions are answered and corrections made when indicated. Progress is being made toward finalizing past digests.
*While most would agree that 2011 was a milestone year for Hart County property owners, we still have important work ahead. With your participation and support, we will continue to focus our efforts on those issues which impact HCPOA members.