June 18, 2009 Issue


Commission has been transparent on authority

Dear Editor:

To the Citizens of Jefferson County:

I am writing this letter to make you aware of the commissioners’ openness and transparency on the issue of attempting to create a utility authority.

We held a scheduled and noticed workshop at 8:30 a.m., Dec. 1, 2008 in which Buddy Welch, an attorney from McDonough brought forth a draft of the proposed legislation. The proposed legislation was thoroughly discussed and tabled to allow the commissioners time to review the document. The proposal and subsequent discussion was reported in the Dec. 4 issue of The News and Farmer.

We held a scheduled and noticed workshop at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 5, 2009. After discussion of the proposed legislation it was unanimously voted to be placed on the regular commission meeting agenda for adoption.

We held a scheduled and noticed commissioners’ meeting at 7 p.m., Feb. 12, 2009. At that meeting we unanimously voted to amend and adopt the proposed legislation, by deleting Section 27. Section 27 involved granting tax exempt status to the authority.

As an overview we held three scheduled and noticed meetings, a front page article was published in the local newspaper covering the proposed legislation before the resolution was adopted. At no time since these meetings were held, the publication of the article in the newspaper nor subsequent communications with representatives of the cities in Jefferson County, did we receive any negative feedback.

The intent to introduce this local legislation was placed in the legal notice section of the Feb. 26 issue of The News and Farmer. No comments were received regarding this notice.

We have been very open and transparent in our attempt to create this utility authority which I believe will promote the economic marketability of our county.

Thank you and God Bless,

H.G. Tommy New
District 4



Appeal process can correct assessments

Dear Editor:

There is little time remaining to file an appeal if you have issues with your 2009 property assessment. Your appeal has to be filed no later than June 22. That does not give much time.

It is critical that you, as a property owner, file an appeal if you have any concerns over your assessment. The appeal process is the only way to correct the inconsistencies apparent in many of the assessments. It will be the responsibility of the Board of Assessors to review your appeal and make necessary corrections. They will have the opportunity to correct the many discrepancies and issues apparent in this year’s assessments. However, if you do not file an appeal, they will not have the opportunity to review your property. Your current assessed value will be the value they use in determining your property taxes.

Once your appeal is filed, the assessors office will review your assessment and look for any computer entry or calculation errors and make the appropriate corrections. Your assessment will then be reviewed by you and the Board of Assessors. I have had my property assessment reviewed before the Board of Assessors once since living in Jefferson County. They were very professional and cooperative and when the process was complete, I was satisfied with the assessed value that was agreed.

It has to be remembered that they have to comply with the laws of the state and have gone through extensive training to be on the Board of Assessors. They are cooperative and explain the reasoning behind their decisions. You as a property owner need to remember, you have done nothing wrong and are not on trial or being judged. You are merely questioning your assessment and you have the right to do so. You will not be penalized for questioning your assessment and one of the primary purposes of the Board of Assessors is to review any issues a property owner has and make any necessary adjustments before an assessment is finalized. No one wants the appeal process to go any further than the Board of Assessors, neither you, the property owner, nor the county. This is the best opportunity to satisfy any discrepancies or issues and reach an assessment that is satisfactory with the property owner while complying with the laws of the state.

It is important, however, that you as a property owner understand that you have to have a justified reason for your appeal. It has to be more than just “It’s too high and I don’t like it.” You have to have legitimate reasons for your appeal such as assessments of similar property showing less assessed value, pictures of issues of questioned property, or any reason that justifies your argument.

Assessments are public information and the assessors office can get you assessments of any property. They will also explain any questions you may have concerning your arguments. Take time and put together material to substantiate your argument before your appeal. Take notes on what you want to bring out to the Board of Assessors. Go into the appeal organized and confident. This will benefit you and will also help the Board of Assessors in their review. Again, remember you are not on trial and you have done nothing wrong but you do have the responsibility of proving your argument. If you are not satisfied with the results of your appeal before the Board of Assessors you still have additional opportunity to present your arguments all the way to the Superior Court if necessary. I encourage you to give the Board of Assessors the opportunity to satisfy your concerns. All of the issues that have been raised can be corrected through the appeals process. The Board of Assessors will have the responsibility of correcting the many issues that are apparent. The Board of Assessors did not create these issues but they are the best opportunity to bring this problem to a satisfactory conclusion. I do not envy their job or the responsibility that goes with it but I am confident, from my past experience, they will bring this issue to a satisfactory conclusion.

Rusty Logue

Sheriff’s stand on ATVs applauded

Dear Editor:

I would like to thank Sheriff Hutchins for his stand on illegal vehicles on local roads and streets. In addition I feel that all vehicles on public roads should be required to meet all state and county laws, ie slow moving signs on farm equipment.

1. They should buy a license every year. 2. They should have turn signals and brake lights. 3. They should have seatbelts for every seat. 4. They should have proof of liability insurance.

Drivers should have a valid driver’s license. No passengers should be hanging off the vehicles. When I say illegal vehicles, I include golf carts. The key word there is golf. These vehicles were designed for golf courses not streets and highways. They are fun to drive but become a death trap when hit by a two ton car.

Why would I feel this way? Try looking into the eyes of a 13-year-old girl as she comes over the hood of your truck and into you windshield. Try having an accident in your area that kills six children under the age of 14 on one ATV on a state highway. Try watching your friends bury their teenage son after he collided with a car.

Not long ago as I turned from U.S. One onto Highway 24, I met a golf car oncoming head on in my lane. If a driveway had not been where he could veer into it, he may have ended his life right there. I had to brake to keep from hitting a golf car trying to cross the Ogeechee River Bridge heading south at dark. When I called 911 the operator asked me “What is the golf car doing wrong?” How many of you can tell her?

I believe a person should be allowed to own and operate any vehicle legally, but when it endangers others your rights end. When you put a 60-pound child on a 600-pound ATV and let him operate it you need mental help. I feel parents who endanger children in this way should be charged.

I appreciate the sheriff’s position now let’s back it up with action for the protection of the general public.

Ray Clements


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