Real Estate reassessment may be delayed

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By Stan Welch

The required reassessment of real estate values in Anderson County may be delayed a year, while software refinements are made to the appraisal program developed by County Auditor Mike Freeman.

The delay would have little effect on county revenues, said Freeman, because the reassessment will be based on 2011 sales of real estate, no matter when it occurs. Despite those assurances, Councilman Eddie Moore protested the proposed delay saying that people who values had dropped would not see the potential reduction in their taxes until 2012, if the delay is approved.

“People are hurting right now. Why prolong the agony? This is just a money grab by the county, and it is a disservice to the county’s residents,” said Moore. Councilman Francis Crowder countered by asking Freeman if most residents would receive the same tax bill they received last year if the reassessment were delayed. He was assured they would.

Council has scheduled a special called meeting for November 29 to discuss the issue further.

Council also approved a lease arrangement with the S.C. Work Force to occupy space in the vacant Bailes Building, due to serious asbestos contamination issues in the job search and unemployment services facility on Whitner St. The lease will be for six months while the asbestos is either removed or another permanent facility is found.

Thirty three employees will be affected, and issues such as relocated traffic and parking are expected to be significant.

In other business, Councilwoman Gracie Floyd took issue with the finance committee’s review of a brownfields grant which her committee, transportation and planning, had already recommended and which had received approval from the full council.

The finance committee, chaired by Councilman Crowder, recommended changes in the way future grant applications are structured, but Floyd irately told the Council that any changes to recommendations made by her committee should be referred back to her committee, and not another one. “We all have jobs to do here, but if we are just going to let one committee run everything, then just give them everything and let the rest of us go home,” said Floyd.

Chairman Tommy Dunn assured her that the territorial dispute would be amicably resolved. “We’ll get this worked out, Ms. Floyd. Let’s all move on right now,” said Dunn.

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson took issue with a number of budget transfers, including one for $18,000 which was made to cover legal expenses related to two lawsuits the county is involved in. She called the transfers ridiculous, even though all were made in compliance with the county policy governing budget transfers. County administrator Rusty Burns and finance director Rita Davis both assured the Council that the transfers did not result in the county going over budget in any way.

In fact Davis said that, given a major unforeseen circumstance, the county is on track to be four hundred thousand dollars under budget in its general fund budget for the year.

Councilmembers Gracie Floyd and Tom Allen opposed the transfers, saying the transfers and the lawsuits have gone on too long. “I hear from people everyday who say that we are spending too much on this matter,” said Allen, referring to the more than a million dollars spent so far on the lawsuits and related legal costs.

The transfers were approved by a vote of 5-2 with Floyd and Allen opposed.