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Quadriplegic appeals CUVA penalty

By Sherri Ellington Local horsewoman Victoria Stewart ‘“ now in a wheelchair and a quadriplegic ‘“ is looking at a $22,896.40 breach penalty for a failed attempt to sell her property in 2006. Stewart, no longer able to care for the horse arena she built many years ago, sold it to a person who declined to put the property back into a Conservation Use Valuation Act covenant. He defaulted on the loan four years later and Stewart had to buy her property back. ‘The new owner just dropped off the face of the Earth,’ said appraiser Jennifer Underwood. At the time, Stewart had one more year of CUVA to go and could have gone ahead and gotten out of the tax exemption due to her disability. ’It was supposed to be done as part of the sale but he never signed anything,’ said Stewart at the March 14 assessors meeting. ‘I promise I didn’t do this on purpose.’ Stewart paid the penalty under protest so it would not harm her credit but is now asking for a refund. ’I want my money back except for the one year’ she feels she is responsible for, she said. Assessors, unable to approve a refund, referred her to the Lamar County commission but warned her there was a threeyear limit on refunds. ’The county attorney will have to research state law,’ said chief appraiser Jeannie Haddock. Stewart has already written commissioners about the issue but, said her attorney Karen Martin, ‘She was denied the chance to appear’ in 2008 and 2009. Assessors voted to send the matter to commissioners. ’This doesn’t guarantee you’ll get your refund but it will get you a hearing before the commissioners,’ said chair Claire White. Assessors also: ’¢ Heard Underwood is leaving the office May 11. ’¢ Approved Forest Land Protection Act value indexes at 1.085% under Georgia recommendations. Four FLPA exemptions also were approved. ’¢ Heard the office is working on reassessments of real estate in Barnesville, which is filled with discrepancies in values and comparable sales are slow. ‘The whole city is unbelievable,’ said Haddock. Property returns are slow coming in. ’¢ Approved its first motor vehicle appeal, for a rebuilt Nissan Juke with a salvage tag. The value of the vehicle was reduced from $25,000 to $10,000. ’¢ Heard a personal property return from Piedmont Green Power is expected by April 1 or the company will face a 10% penalty. ’¢ Approved an exemption for Barnesville First Baptist Church for property bought for use as classrooms and denied a similar request for Rock Springs Church because it was not the owner of the property on Jan. 1. ’¢ Denied one CUVA application because the owners joined the properties after Jan. 1. ’¢ Approved 2013 real estate returns, which included a burned home. Several had no changes, some had accessory building and grade corrections and one had to be remeasured. The total difference to the tax digest was $975,000. ’¢ Approved seven new CUVA applications, six releases and one appeal of an earlier denial. ’¢ Denied two S3 and one L2 homestead exemptions. ’¢ Approved 18 L4, two S3, nine LC, two L5, 11 S1, three L2 homestead exemptions. ’¢ Removed its policy concerning removal of a house and two acres from CUVA exemptions after discovering it did not mesh with Georgia law. Three CUVAs impacted by the policy were approved. ’¢ Agreed to refund one SS application at a cost of $200 to $300 because the homeowner is in the wrong class. ’¢ Called a closed session to discuss personnel.

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