Assessors board rejects Columbus city council's solution for property value, tax controversy

(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A spirited, sometimes tense discussion between members of Muscogee County's Tax Assessors Office, and Columbus City Councilors.

Two weeks ago, city council presented a resolution to delay the increased 2017 tax digest, meaning property taxpayers would avoid paying more by using their 2016 tax assessment while both sides come to an agreement.

"We sent it as a way this council could intervene and maybe come up with a solution," said city councilor Glenn Davis, "Because we understand the problem, the quagmire of this issue."

The Board of Assessors' attorney, Randy Lomax, gave the board's response to city council's proposal

"[The resolution] was rejected by the board, and we notified the city attorney of that yesterday afternoon," Lomax said.

Lomax also said council's solution, among other observations according to the board, doesn't consider property owners who received "valuation decreases" on their property.

"Reverting to the 2016 tax digest would potentially negatively impact those owners," Lomax said. "The resolution did not state how we would address those people who would be negatively impacted."

At one point, the Board of Assessors chair Chester Randolph aired his frustration with what he said was council's critical reaction to their work.

"Why beat us up for something we feel we've done right, by the law?" Randolph said.  "Why people don't want to follow the law, I don't understand it," he added.

Still, some on the council, like Gary Allen, responded to Randolph's comments and said most councilors are only trying to help their constituents solve this problem.

"Several of us have attended homeowner group meetings, and we've literally had our head handed to us because people are upset," Allen said.

Allen also said he felt there's been no desire shown by members of the assessor's board to communicate with the city council.

"When you don't communicate with us, you can get as frustrated as you want to, but when you don't communicate with us," Allen told Randolph, "There's a problem.

"We're doing the best job we can do," Randolph said. "We're a part-time board, we're not full-time, and yet, this council- some council members- have gone out and encouraged people to beat us up, out our phone numbers out there, and bombard us."

Despite sometimes tense moments during the discussion, toward the end of the meeting, several councilors, including Glenn Davis and Walker Garrett, expressed they want the assessor's board to collaborate and offer its own suggestions so that the city could resolve this property value issues as soon as possible.

One point both council and the board seem to agree that they want a representative from Tyler Technologies, the software company handling the payroll conversion for city government, to appear before the city and explain why there have been what officials believe are several discrepancies with the assessments.

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