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Assessors issue statements on calls for resignations

Lamar tax assessors chairman Lisa Dziedzic and vice-chairman David Dodd have issued prepared statements regarding the demand for their resignations by the Lamar County commission. The commission voted 3-1 Jan. 12 to demand the resignations. Dziedzic statement: In response to the commissioners’ request for my resignation from the board of assessors, I am politely declining. When I was appointed two years ago for a three year term, I made a commitment to this county to serve my term and do the best possible job for Lamar County. I was initially appointed to finish Jeannie Haddock’s term, was reappointed for an additional three years, took this responsibility seriously and plan to finish out my term. Our job is not easy. We have laws that govern our actions and those actions are not always popular. There are certain deadlines the board of assessors has to meet including applications of exemptions, mailing of assessment notices, real and personal property tax returns, appeals and the digest. Appointing a new board will take several months to get the necessary training (at the county’s expense) and some of these deadlines will not be met. Therefore, the county will be fined thousands of dollars which will increase the taxes of every property owner in Lamar County. I believe it would be irresponsible to resign and add this burden of increased taxes on me and the other property owners of Lamar County. The assessor’s office has made great strides in becoming more taxpayer friendly. Several months ago, we installed a taxpayer comment box outside the office. Every employee has been instructed to give a comment card to each taxpayer they help to improve our customer relations. The box cannot be opened by anyone, including the employees, except members of the board of assessors. So far we have received 15 comment cards and none commented any problems with their visit to the office. It is also my goal to continue working on our policies and procedures to institute a manual for the assessor’s office by the end of 2010. This manual will include guidelines and previous decisions made by the board concerning conservation breaches and changes, personal property returns, outbuilding assessments, human resource policies and any other areas that we deem necessary to keep our decisions consistent regardless of the size of your bank account. The countywide revaluation has been started and is progressing through the north end of Lamar County. Our goal is to finish the revaluation by the end of 2012 when the freeze on property values is lifted by the state to correct the uniformity problems that currently exist. The uniformity issue is not that values are too high, which some are, but that many are too low. We have not had taxpayers flooding our office complaining that their values are too low. We are aware the economy has decreased values on many properties and the countywide revaluation will resolve this. The Lamar County commissioners voted Tuesday night to issue permits for the C&D landfill in north Lamar County. For years, I’ve heard many people in other districts in the county say they didn’t care whether it came or not because it wasn’t close to them. The freeze on values by the state doesn’t restrict the county from lowering values, only raising them. With the revaluation starting in north Lamar, there is a possibility some values may decrease because of the permitting of the C&D landfill and rock quarry, two negative impacting industries. The consequences of the commissioners’ actions may mean the other districts could carry the burden of high taxes because their values will not be affected other than the adjustments of the current economy. In conclusion, this board provides monthly updates on the revaluation progress to the Lamar County commissioners and is continually working to improve the areas mentioned in the Department of Revenue’s audit. We welcome any additional comments or suggestions from the commissioners and taxpayers. I will continue to serve as a member and chairman of the board of assessors through 2010. Dodd statement: To the citizens of Lamar County: As I promised at the board of assessor’s meeting, I am submitting my resignation to commissioner Nancy Thrash. I take this action based on commissioner Thrash’s statement that the citizens of Lamar County have lost faith in our board of assessors. I hope by my action today we can move on and take care of all the work required by the state of Georgia in a timely fashion. Be careful what you ask for ‘“ you might get it. The board of assessors was established by Georgia law to act independently from the commissioners. Any actions to control any member of our board of assessors should not be allowed. The action of any member of our county administration to control any member of your board of assessors could result in a loss of your rights as established by Georgia law.

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