Commission studies reappraisal program

Commission studies reappraisal program
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
A recommendation has been made and will be studied for Obion County to pay the full reappraisal cost for the county — including the portion owed by cities.
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire discussed the county’s 2013 reap-praisal program during Monday morning’s budget committee meeting.
Next year is appraisal year for the county.
According to state law, in the absence of an agreement between the county and cities imposing property taxes, the local cost of property reappraisal with any cities will be paid one-half by the county and one-half by the city. Any city paying half of the local cost of reappraisal would pay those costs directly to county government with jurisdiction over the property being reappraised in the business year during which appraisal is finalized.
McGuire outlined past funding of reappraisals, which included Obion County paying the full cost for the county — including the cities — in 2008. He provided the seven budget committee members with a color-coded comparison chart prepared by administrative assistant Kay Calhoun.
“In 2002, we reappraised, and if you notice the total cost of reappraisals in 2002 in the city was $50,565 — half of it was the cities’ share of 25 grand, with the largest city, of course, Union City, paying $14,900, almost $15,000. They paid that in 2002,” McGuire said. “The next reappraisal year was in 2008. The county chose to pay all of it in 2008.”
County commissioner Allen Nohsey questioned why the county paid the full cost in 2008 and former budget committee chairman Danny Jowers said he believes it was a gesture to help ease the burden on cities across the county and absorb some of the costs for them.
After some discussion, McGuire recommended the county pay 100 percent for all the cities for the 2013 reappraisal year — a cost currently estimated at some $57,000 combined for all the cities and estimated at $32,000 alone for Union City.
“Some of these cities are really struggling; the smaller cities are struggling big time,” he said.
Commissioner Richard Arnold said he agrees with the county’s paying the full cost if it can be afforded, but he said the county also needs to inform the cities the county may not be able to pay the full cost in the future and the cities may have to pay their portions.
McGuire said it needs to be studied in next year’s 2013-14 budget and action did not need to be taken at  Monday’s meeting. He said county officials need to wait on the next budget and alert the cities that if the county does not approve the action for the next budget year, they will be responsible for paying their halves of the reappraisal cost.
The budget committee approved Jowers’ motion to defer the reappraisal action to next year’s budget hearings for the 2013-14 budget.
Other action
In other action during Monday morning’s 40-minute session, opened with prayer led by Hornbeak Vice Mayor Dennis Dozier, the Obion County budget committee:
• Heard continued concerns from commissioner Jim Bondurant regarding troubled city-county relations following some decisions in recent months. He urged commissioners to continue to work toward restoring the county’s relationship with Union City, something discussed several times in recent months, rather than sweeping it aside.
Budget committee chairman Jerry Grady said he believes the county commission is doing what it can to help all cities across the county, not just Union City, and he noted Monday’s discussion about easing the burden on the cities by paying the reappraisal cost.
Grady also said it would be nice if Union City Mayor Terry Hailey would stop “belittling the county” on various issues on the radio station where he works as general manager and on air. He cited a recent incident where Hailey allegedly made a negative comment about a recent county decision while announcing Obion County Commission chairman Ralph Puckett’s birthday on the radio.
“Why don’t you go to the city council and say the same thing to them,” Grady asked Bondurant.
Puckett, a member of the budget committee, said Hailey is aware of everything the county has done for the city in the past and knows Puckett has supported many of those actions.
“He knows all that, but he won’t give us credit for anything,” Puckett said. “So there he is throwing a jab like that. That’s ridiculous. You need to be talking to them, not us. Stop all this crap then.”
Grady said county commissioners want to work with the city government, and Arnold said he believes there needs to be better communication between the two and more attendance at one another’s meetings.
“I’d like to see some of them show up and give us some suggestions,” Arnold said, adding that county commissioners are always willing to sit down and talk to try to make amends.
Bondurant urged an open line of communications as everyone moves forward, drawing agreement from Jowers.
“We just need to go forward and try to get along with every city, not just one,” Jowers said.
Jowers said it is not the county’s fault its interest rate went down and the economy is bad, resulting in a shortfall, but he said the commission tries to make things fair for everyone. He said finger-pointing and derogatory remarks toward the county commission and its chairman must stop.
“It’s absolutely uncalled for. That’s childish,” Jowers said, adding it is not the proper way for commissioners or city councilmen to act.
Commissioner Terry Roberts, a budget committee member, also urged commissioners to move forward and he said the county commissioners represent the entire county, regardless of what city they are in.
“We’re all in this together,” Bondurant added.
• Accepted McGuire’s report on the county’s June 30 audit report for the General Fund.
The audit noted only that a central system of accounting has not yet been adopted, a year to year occurrence, and the county has not established an audit committee. The only finding involved expenditures exceeding appropriations, but McGuire explained the lone incident was due to a health department grant which had to be closed out in the year in which it was done and the money was received late in the year. He said it was simply a bookkeeping matter and it all worked out.
• OK’d in-house budget transfers for the sheriff’s department drug enforcement budget and the assessor’s office.
• Approved placing a financial report from the Indigent Care Trust Fund and a report from the county’s finance committee on the full county commission’s agenda for its Nov. 19 meeting, as well as a report from the county’s insurance committee if the panel calls a meeting before the commission’s session.
• Approved placing appointments to the airport and civil service boards on the agenda for the county commission meeting. McGuire said Dr. Chris Gooch is willing to continue to serve on the airport board, but David James no longer wishes to serve and a replacement will be named. Joyce Taylor is willing to continue to serve on the civil service board.
• OK’d placing notary public applications on the commission’s agenda.
• Voted to send to the full commission a resolution from Maury County which pertains to getting more detailed personal and vehicle information when guests check into motels, which will significantly impact law enforcement officers in cases where time is critical, such as child abductions. In urging support, Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder said the additional information is already required in some bigger cities, but not statewide.
• Agreed to place on the commission’s agenda a report on the debt obligation regarding an airport note, a recordkeeping action required by the state comptroller’s office for “transparency” reasons, according to Ms. Calhoun.
• Learned a replacement needs to be chosen for county veterans services officer Chuck Ashley, who is retiring effective Jan. 1, 2013, according to McGuire, who said Ashley will be part of the interview committee to find his successor. The committee voted to place the item on the full commission’s agenda for discussion.
Puckett said he would like to see the commission adopt a resolution to congratulate Ashley for his service and McGuire suggested a plaque also be presented.
• Agreed to put an item regarding land issues on the full commission’s agenda. McGuire said he could not discuss the issue Monday, but will have a full report at the commission meeting. Published in The Messenger 11.6.12

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