1. Scattered Site Program
The Commissioners awarded $70,000 of taxpayers’ money (CDBG) to Mel’s Plumbing for the demolition and rebuilding of one home in the Scattered Site Housing program. Karen Foster, Council of Governments, said because Mel’s Plumbing is a licensed builder, electrician, and plumber they avoid subbing out costs achieving the lowest bid. One could argue that that an all in one contractor defeats an objective of the Scattered Site Housing Program, “… expanding economic opportunities.” Unless the increase in the tax value of the property is considered expanding economic opportunities. Ms. Foster also advised the Commissioner’s of some additional issues on the CDBG Scattered Site rehabs. One of the properties has a lead contamination issue and the other the bids are above the maximum allowed.
2. Tax Office Matter
This proved to be the big item for the evening. The County’s Tax Manager (Procha Brooks) is conducting a review of the present use of lands designated for agricultural, horticultural, and forestry. The tax department mailed a request to property owners to confirm present-use of their lands. Apparently the request asked for a copy of the owner’s IRS Schedule F (Profit and Loss from Farming) as a way to confirm the lands use. Claudia Grissom, the lone person to speak during the public comment period, expressed her displeasure regarding the request for the Schedule F. Besides what was requested, the actual confirmation of present use of lands may be a bigger issue. “The tax assessor (tax manager) must [is required to] annually review at least one-eighth of the properties in present-use value to verify that those properties continue to quality for present-use value classification.” Through the course of the discussion Ms. Brooks stated the tax department intends to complete this review of present-use of all lands before the next property assessment in 2016. Commissioner Wilder said “… part of this whole thing is communications. We didn’t know this was happening.” Apparently prior to Ms. Brook’s employment the tax department was less than dutiful complying with State guidelines and was more communicative with Commissioners. Chairman Garrison formed an ad hoc committee with Commissioners Brown, Brummitt, and Wilder to work with Ms. Brooks in drafting a tax compliance questionnaire (form) on present-use of lands.
After the Commissioners approved the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs untimely exemption application, Commissioner Hester asked Ms. Brooks to explain the future change in car tax collections. Ms. Brooks said the State legislature has changed who collects the car tax. Starting in July 2013, car tax will be collected by DMV when paying for car tags. Through the course of the short discussion came this warning, pay this year’s car tax before next year. If you wait to pay this year’s tax next year and your tags are renewed after July, you will get to pay the previous year’s tax and the current year’s car tax all at one time. Thanks for the head’s up Commissioner Hester.
3. Committee Report
Ms. Johen, announced a last minute add-on to the Human Resource Position Vacancies. A search for Finance Director was added. I do not know if Mr. Stanton has been promoted or is exiting his county employment, or if there is another finance director. Not one of the Commissioners or the County Manager made any comment regarding the need to find a finance director.
For all the supposed up roar over the tax question on present-use of lands, attendance to the Commissioners meeting was sparse. From the peanut gallery I counted eleven people at the start of the meeting. Only one person was present to speak about the tax issue. Of the other ten attending, one person was attending for the Boys and Girls Club tax issue; three were to make a presentation, and four were county employees not making a presentation. The newspaper reporter and myself round out the total attendance. This is sad. Especially with all the sky is falling clamor after November’s elections.