Twiggs County Board of Assessors chairman, vice chairman face questions

JEFFERSONVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The chairman and vice chairman of the Twiggs County Board of Assessors might be out of a job.

The Board of Commissioners filed a motion to remove them for sending out letters to taxpayers who have homestead exemptions.

“Here, your honor, the real issue is they’ve done their jobs too well,” said defense attorney Sam Brannen.

The defense fought hard for the chairman and Vice Chairman of the Twiggs County Board Of Assessors.

Brannen laid out his argument–that Walter Ashby and Jerry Fincher were simply trying to do their job when they sent letters to property owners getting homestead exemptions.

The letter asked for information to finish incomplete or non-existing applications for the exemptions that were found during an audit approved by the Board of Assessors.

If there were tax exemptions given to people who don’t deserve it, that’s a problem for the county.

“780 people,” said Brannen. “780 property owners in Twiggs County that were receiving what’s called L-4 tax exemptions, that’s a local tax exemption for their property. There were only 371 applications that were at all present, however.”

The letter says: “Failure to submit documents by the required date, will result in the removal of your homestead exemption.”

That’s what county attorney Chix Miller has a problem with.

“The board of commissioners, for its part, advised the respondents, on two occasions, not to send out the letters,” said Miller.

Miller says the board was against the letters because of Georgia law.

“The veterans and the elderly homestead exemption persons automatically continue to receive these homestead exemptions because of the applicable Georgia statute,” said Miller.

Cecil Fountain is on the Board of Tax Assessors.

He says he’s received a lot of calls from people worried about losing their exemption–he didn’t know the letter would threaten to take it away.

“I had some concerns about why we were focusing on the elderly and veterans,” said Fountain. “But I voted on it because again, I thought the state would require us to do an audit.”

Brannen says Ashby and Fincher can only be removed for good cause or failure to do their duties for office–and the letter is not improper.

Fountain says he wanted to revise the letter before it went out, but didn’t get a chance.

Categories: Local News, Twiggs County

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