Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camden Assessors Won't Quit; 'They're Stomping the Law to Pieces'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camden Assessors Won't Quit; 'They're Stomping the Law to Pieces'

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGSLAND -- Four members of the Camden County Board of Assessors rejected Friday county commissioners' demand that they resign.

Even if they don't resign, however, the commission has voted to eliminate their $200-a-month pay.

At the beginning of a special meeting Friday, the Board of Assessors refused to take questions from the audience about higher property valuations that have angered many residents. The assessors said the special meeting was scheduled to discuss possible legal action and went into a closed session.

In calling for the resignations Tuesday, the commissioners said the new values cannot be justified and that the public has lost confidence in the assessors' ability to fairly appraise properties.

The fifth member of the board, Richard Frizell, did not attend the meeting Friday. Because he has not yet taken state-mandated training, the commissioners have not asked Frizell to quit.

Former St. Marys City Council member Doug Vaught tried to convince board members to answer questions before they went behind closed doors.

"I though we had some input in what you do," Vaught told the board. "We didn't realize we didn't have any input."

New real estate values posted on a county Web site indicated some values, especially in downtown St. Marys, could increase more than 800 percent.

Board members said the new values were working numbers that were posted prematurely. They said the values will likely be much lower when tax bills are mailed to property owners this year.

Ten minutes after meeting in private, board members told the audience they had approved a letter they plan to deliver to the County Commission defending the recent evaluations. The letter asks commissioners not to eliminate their pay and requested funding to hire an attorney for legal advice.

County attorney Brent Green represents both the County Commission and the assessors, but cannot if one takes legal action against the other. …

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