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Let citizens decide if county 'needs' money

Letter to editor

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POSTED: February 28, 2011 9:35 a.m.

Dear Editor: I read with interest the front page article in your countywide edition “Drop in Values could mean tax increases.” In that article, chief tax appraiser Dan Rollf repeatedly warned of seeing “no way around tax millage increases.” He stated that current property assessments were higher than current home values. What a surprise.
Due to new state laws, he is being forced to do a countywide reval. Under current new law, every homeowner must receive a valuation yearly, which can be contested. Up until this year, homeowners only received a property assessment if the assessors office decided there warranted a change. If the assessor decided there was no change, no assessment was sent. Homeowners who saw their home values drop steadily from the 2006 highs were given no way to challenge the assessment. The new law changed that inequity.
Rollf said he foresaw a potential 10 percent decrease in property values, equaling an a hit of about $900,000 to the $17 million budget. 
Rollf said, “So the commissioners need that money to operate” and forewarned of a needed millage increase. Thanks Dan!!
Last time I checked the chief tax appraiser’s responsibilities were simple:
“The tax assessor is responsible for determining what property in the county is subject to taxation. He is to make certain that values are assessed fairly countywide.”
Nowhere is it mentioned that chief assessors should have any role in determining what taxes should be or advocating for tax increases.
He certainly has a duty to keep the county commissioners updated on current and potential future revenue gains and losses. We elect our commissioners to make the choices on what they will do with the gains and losses. We have a chance to advocate one way or another on our feelings on budget and taxes. (As we did in the fall of 2009). We can “vote” our pleasure or displeasure with their fiscal stewardship. (As we did in 2010.)
Mr. Rollf needs to stick to his hired (not by citizens) job. He has nothing to do with raising taxes or seeming to attempt to give cover to our commissioners about the need to raise taxes. It quite simply is not part of his job description and could feasibly be viewed as a conflict of interest. If commissioners “need that money,” might not he not just assess the homes a wee bit higher?
Bryan County citizens will deal with the commissioners on whether they “need” that money. We have in the past, and I am certain we will for the 2011 budget.
Butt out Mr. Rollf.
 
Heather Brockhoff
Richmond Hill

 

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