Tax Assessors Roll Back Decision on Elderly Tax Exemption Changes

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Tax Assessors voted to roll back their recent decision on House Bill 1383, which was given the green light during their meeting held on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

This bill ultimately determines what structures on a property are exempt for those 65 years of age or older in regards to the Gilmer County school district ad valorem taxes.

The board did as they informed the public they would do and got advice from Attorney Joe Scheuer of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia regarding the interpretation of the law.

In a three-page document to the board, Scheuer stated that “I believe this question involves a determination that must be made on a case by case basis locally”, but went on to say that “Homestead includes the following qualifications: The actual permanent place of residence, where the building is occupied primarily as a dwelling. In other words, with respect to the home, the exemption is limited to that structure so that attached structures are included; garage, deck, etc. Other structures, such as detached garages, gazebos, etc. are not included. Detached structures, to my knowledge, have never been included as part of the building which is occupied as the primary dwelling, or at least they were not supposed to have been included.”

However, because what this attorney says differs from what the state legislative liaison has said on the matter, County Attorney David Clark believes the board needs an opinion from the attorney general.

Ultimately, due to the two conflicting readings and two entirely different opinions as to how the tax code should be implemented, the board voted in favor of rolling back the decision to uphold the new changes, continuing with the way things were in 2018 until the board receives further clarification.

The issue with this decision, as the board pointed out, is that structures of business such as chicken houses, barns, etc. will be exempt of the school system taxes as they were in 2018.

But because of the deadlines involved, the board decided it would still be easier just to go with the 2018 interpretation without modification.

No further public mailings are required on behalf of the board because of this decision.

The board will be re-examining the definitions of the bill in the near future and hopes to have a definitive interpretation by 2020, so be sure to stay tuned for future updates!

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Newly-adopted bill ignores certain structures from elderly tax exemptions

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – House Bill 1383 was the topic of much debate during the Board of Tax Assessor’s meeting on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Up until adoption of this bill, those who were 65 years of age or older were exempt from paying the Gilmer County school district ad valorem taxes on their property.

This is still in place. However, this no longer exempts structures that are not considered to be the primary dwelling place of the property owner.

As Chief Appraised Theresa Gooch explained, the interpretation of this bill “Does not include any buildings not attached to the primary residence. It still exempts 100% on the primary home, all of the land and any structures that are attached by a common roof line.”

In short, structures not attached to your home by the roof line are no longer tax exempt.

This would include structures such as wood sheds, barns, out houses, green houses, etc. Whereas in the past, all structures on the entire property were exempt.

According to County Attorney David Clark, “the state is the entity that has guided the board to the specific definition as to what constitutes a homestead.”

The board explained “No one here was associated with the implementation of this bill in ’08. But it was implemented simply by applying the exemption to anyone over 65 who applied for appeals and asked for a homestead. Chicken houses, business’, etc. things that clearly didn’t belong in a homestead were caught up in it. The chicken houses and business’ were cleaned up shortly after that ’08 thing. I don’t even recall what brought this to our attention. But the law says under the definition of the state statute that the dwelling is the exempt item. The land and the residence.”

When asked why it took so long for the board to bring this up, they responded that they honestly weren’t sure, and that it just didn’t come to their attention prior.

Many citizens present were very against this change, however.

Many are concerned that the board simply wants nothing more than to tax them more, with one citizen stating “My neighbor has the same roof line. He has a horse barn. Now we’re not taxing it because it shares the same roof line? What’s next? I move my daughter in the basement, now I’m not occupying it, she is, so you’re going to tax my basement for that? That’s where we could go if we continue to let you erode our rights here. This isn’t right. Let’s stay where we’re at. Manage the money we already give you, and not try to take more away from us. It’s difficult enough as it is living on a fixed income.”

The board voted in favor of this bill under the grounds that they have no choice at this point in time due to digest and submission process timelines.

However, citizens have until Monday, July 1, 2019 to file an appeal with the board, which will likely go to the Board of Equalization and potentially the superior court.

The board also states that they will re-address this issue and give full clarification from the proper state authorities by Tuesday, January 1, 2020.

Stay tuned for developments on this bill as they become known!

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Indian Chief Nearly Arrested During Tax Assessors Meeting

Board of Assessors, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Chief Gees-Due OO-Neh-Gah Usti (pictured above) of the Southern Cherokee Nation and The Red Fire People was nearly arrested during the Gilmer County Tax Assessor’s Meeting held on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

One of the first orders of business for the meeting was a follow-up to the exempt property application filed by the Southern Cherokee Nation and Red Fire People during previous Tax Assessor’s meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2019 in which the board voted against the application.

Chief Gees-Due OO-Neh-Gah Usti began by stating that the judge representing the Southern Cherokee Nation and The Red Fire People was running late and requested that the matter be pushed back to a later part of the meeting, which the board denied later stating that the agenda had already been voted on and approved.

Board of Assessors (June 2019)

The vote to deny the application once again came swiftly without much prior discussion.

Things were understandably heated during the meeting, and the law enforcement stationed at the court house were called in shortly after the meeting started and stayed for the remainder of the meeting.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was contacted prior to the meeting confirming no association with the Southern Cherokee Nation and The Red Fire People, which the Chief stated was correct.

The International Revenue Service (IRS) was also contacted in regards to the Southern Cherokee Nation being a 501(c)(3) Organization, which the Chief states no legitimate tribe is considered as such in the United States.

The Chief went on to state that his tribe creates their own funds through economic development and thus did not become a part of the voluntary Bureau of Indian Affairs in which tribes willingly receive funds from the US government, and that they are recognized by over 30 countries throughout the world.

The Chief states that they have treaties with the United States, and claims that under Article 6 of the United States constitution, the board has no jurisdiction in the matter of the treaties, and that the only branch of the government that may negotiate with a tribe is the Federal Government. Further, he cites that the case Worcester v Georgia proves his people’s sovereignty.

One of the recurring topics regarding the Exempt Property Application is unmistakably the proposed religious usage of the donated land, which County Attorney David Clark pointed out there has still been no proof of. The Chief retorted that it is the burden of the board to prove religious intent. It was also stated previously by Chief Appraiser Theresa Gooch that no religious structure is required to signify religious intent.

The board voted the application down once again, with only Jerry Davis abstaining. According to Gooch, next up is to certify this to the Board of Equalization, with the Chief threatening legal action, but stay tuned for future updates in this story!


 
 
 
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Gilmer BOC Sees Ordinance Change and TAN Update

News

ELLIJAY, GA – The Gilmer County Commissioners saw possible progress for the Cherry Log Fire Station in the form of an Ordinance Change along with an update on this years Tax Anticipation Note (TAN).

The County accepted the First Reader and Public Commentary Meeting for a change to ordinances regarding Purchases of the Board of Commissioners. Attempting to deal with one of the issues delaying the Cherry Log Fire Station, this new change is set  The new change will allow the Commissioners to increase the spending limit with a single vendor in a year without bidding from $20,000 to $50,000 if the capital project is already in the County Budget. Additionally, the Commissioners added a new requirement that any purchases over $25,000 would require two separate signatures from the County Commissioners.

Although no citizens spoke at the Public Hearing, the Commissioners will have the Second Reading for the change at August’s Meetings if citizens still wish to speak on the subject.

The Commissioners also brought up the bid TAN for 2017. Although not yet utilized this year, Chairman Paris stated they expect to begin drawing upon it in Mid August.

Many will recall that the TAN has been needed later and later every year over the last few years. However, last year the TAN was also used in August. Paris addressed the meeting about this saying that while citizens may have originally expected to push the TAN back further this year, one major change to the budget changed that expectation. Beginning in 2017, the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners separated close to $800,000 from the General Fund Budget received through LMIG Grants.

Though that Grant is usually left in the General Fund as a “buffer” according to Chairman Paris, the separation of these funds means there is less of a buffer for the year’s expenses. Paris stated during the movie that after losing the major amount of funds from the general fund and still going to mid-August before needing to utilize the TAN is a good sign for the county and its economy.

The general sense could mean that Gilmer still see the TAN used later next year, especially with Commissioner’s expectations for maintaining close to a four to four-and-a-half month contingency fund for the county. Citizens could even see Gilmer forgoing usage of the TAN in the coming years if the county continues financially as it currently is.

Additionally, July’s meeting saw the Commissioners appoint Bill Logan to the Board of Tax Assessors due to an recent resignation. Their appointment of Logan is to fulfill the remainder of that term. They also appointed Mary Ann Cook to the Keep Gilmer Beautiful Board.

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Chairman Paris Offers “State of the County”

News

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stops by to speak about a number of issues with Good Morning From the Office.

Chairman Paris goes over the recent audit for our county and its implications including a new line item in the budget for Contingency Funds, this year’s Tax Anticipation Note (TAN), and the separation of our Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) into a separate account from the General Fund and its effect on the TAN.

Paris also discusses the County’s Roads and how we have improved the Road Department’s quality and speed with new equipment and additional employees. Specifically, he updates you on the progress of Ridgeway Church Road: one property owner is delaying the road paving, but overcoming that obstacle could see paving by end of summer.

Gilmer County could see a heavy consent order, a $174,000 fine originally, completed in the next months now that the Audit is completed along with all the points on the order.

After a poor bid for clearing the lot for Cherry Log Fire Station, the Commissioners are planning to bid laying asphalt for this year’s LMIG to free up road department to clear the land. Attempting to keep the project moving towards December completion date, this paving bids are part of Chairman Paris’ attempts to not let the Fire Station become “Chairman Paris’ Clear Creek Ball Fields.”

A final note from Paris’ visit mentioned his proposal for next year to begin setting aside $300,000 for a new pool over next 4 years. At the end of four years, enough money should be saved to build a new pool and then begin moving forward to build onto it with other options such as a covering.

 

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Gilmer County Board of Tax Assessors- June 30, 2017 @ 10 am

Legal Notice

AGENDA
GILMER COUNTY BOARD OF TAX ASSESSORS
SPECIAL CALLED MEETING
JUNE 30, 2017
MEETING TIME 10:00 A.M.
ASSESSOR’S OFFICE
GILMER COUNTY COURTHOUSE
1 BROAD STREET, SUITE 104, ELLIJAY, GA 

  1. CALL TO ORDER
  2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JUNE 16, 2017
  3. ADOPTION OF AGENDA
  4. NEW BUSINESS: Expenditure Budget Report – May 2017
  5. CONSERVATION USE: New/Renew/Continuation/Release/Change of Use
  6. HOMESTEAD EXEMPTIONS
  7. MANUFACTURED HOME CHANGES: E&R’s
  8. PERSONAL PROPERTY CHANGES:
    1. 2017 Suppressed Notices
    2. Freeport Applications
  9. 2017 DIGEST APPROVAL
  10. PUBLIC COMMENTS
  11. CHIEF APPRAISER’S COMMENTS
  12. CHAIRMAN’S COMMENTS
  13. ADJOURNMENT

 

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