By EVAN WADE
The Clay County Council has transferred $500,000 from the county's Reasessment Fund to the assessor's office, allowing Assessor C.R. Boyd to obtain land data on the county for taxation purposes.
Boyd first asked the council for the money in April, outlining the need for accurate data.
Basically, the office has been reapplying old land information to new reasessment numbers in the last few years, increasing the risk of making inaccurate Property Tax data.
"Several years back, we decided not to pay that half a million and use what data we had," Boyd said in the April meeting. "Now we have to get new data."
Boyd declined comment Tuesday, claiming he was unavailable. He had not responded to a call left at his home Tuesday morning as of press time. In April, he cancelled an interview on the same subject with a Times reporter less than 24 hours before it was scheduled.
With the money, Boyd plans to hire an independent contractor company to come and physically reassess, or audit, each residential land parcel in the county. This new data will then be checked against the county's current numbers. Inaccurate numbers will be changed to reflect the audit's findings.
In Monday's meeting, the council held a lengthy discussion before allowing the transfer. Councilman Les Harding said while he couldn't speak on behalf of the whole council, he believes skepticism on the council's part gave way to concern for the county.
"It's probably because we must do a correct reassessment of properties. We've got many people in the county, and some of them are probably paying too much in taxes, and some probably aren't paying enough. We figured we'd have to bite the bullet and do it. We decided it was the right thing to do."
Generally, one of an elected township trustees' duties is to assess properties within a county. To assess land, a person must be a level two assessor. Boyd is certified as level two, as is one other township trustee. The remainder are level one or lower. Due to this "understaffing," so to speak, it would be hard, if not impossible, for the county to do the audit on its own.
The Reassessment Fund contained approximately $1.4 million before Monday's meeting. Harding said some money had been spent from the fund, mostly to buy equipment for the assessor's office, in the past. He stressed, however, that the money in the fund "is not new money." The Reassessment Fund is filled by the Property Tax. Since the money is not physically transferred, only authorized for spending, any surplus will simply stay in the fund.