Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlton Assessors Fired Filing Tax Digest Late Cited as Reason

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Charlton Assessors Fired Filing Tax Digest Late Cited as Reason

Article excerpt

FOLKSTON -- Two members of the Charlton County Board of Assessors who refused to resign in January have been fired by the County Commission.

On a vote of 3-2, the commission removed Guy Gowen and Lawanda Jones at its meeting Monday night.

The commissioners voted to replace them with James Herrin and Betty Wollard, who were given six-year terms.

Gowen and Jones said they will appeal to a Superior Court judge once they are given written notification of their firings.

In January, the commission asked for the resignations of four of the five Board of Assessors members, saying they have been negligent in ensuring the county's tax digest is filed by the July 1 deadline each year. The tax digest is a list of the values of all taxable property in the county upon which taxes can be levied.

Gowen and Jones had refused to step down, telling commissioners the digest hadn't been filed on time in more than a decade and that they had what they believe was a valid excuse.

On Monday night, County Commissioner Dallas Huling made the motion to fire the two board members. The motion was seconded by Jessie Smith.

Commissioners Jesse Crews and C.L. Nazworth voted against the motion.

Commission Chairman Eugene Davis cast the tie-breaking vote.

Gowen and Jones, in explaining why the digest was late, showed commissioners Monday night copies of minutes from a County Commission meeting on Dec. 7, 1995. The minutes showed that commissioners were told by the Board of Assessors that all the county's property had to be re-evaluated, in accordance with state law.

Commissioners were told at the 1995 meeting that the county would save $150,000 if John Barnes, the county's chief tax appraiser, re-evaluated the property himself, the trade-off being the tax digest would be late.

At that time, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept a late tax digest to save the $150,000, according to the minutes of the meeting. …

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