Heard County’s Chief Appraiser Fired, “Just Because”
Board of Assessors Forced to Fire Appraiser
TPV News Staff
Heard County, Georgia
On August 15, Tammy Ivy, who served the citizens of Heard County as Chief Appraiser for the Tax Assessor’s office for 4 years, was ousted on August 15, and the only reason given so far is because “we’re sick of her and want her out!”
During a lengthy interview Ivy told The People’s Voice, “We value the property. We are educated through the state. I have the qualifications to be a chief appraiser, based on what the state requires. So, I can go to work for any county in the State of Georgia. I started in the Assessors Office in Coweta County when I was 19, so I’ve been in this business for 20 years.”
But, despite training, credentials, 20 years of experience and efforts to help bring Heard County out of the hole, Ivy was ordered to pack her things and leave the Assessor’s office after an impromptu meeting with the Heard County Board of Assessors.
Ivy was appointed to the position by the Board of Assessors, in July of 2004. “When I was first appointed, they were behind. In the 4 years I was there, I got them back on track, got them caught up, and this year, we were on time with our digest.”
Ivy knows her work couldn’t have been the issue. “That is what is so upsetting and disturbing about the whole thing… because after all I did for them, it kinda hit me as a surprise. No one had ever brought to my attention anything that I had been doing or had done wrong.”
Sandra Nolan, Heard County Tax Commissioner said how well the tax Commissioner’s office runs, depends on the Appraiser’s office. “Tammy did a lot for that office as far as organizing things a lot better, she worked to get equipment. We worked real well together and I was very satisfied.”
Ivy who had suffered with back problems, recalls August 14, the day she took off to undergo outpatient surgery. That was the day the Commissioners asked the board of Assessors to meet with them.
The Board of Assessors is a 3-member board including Johnny Kistler, Agnes Jackson and Woody Abney.
Ivy recalls, “Unbeknownst to me that evening at 6:00, they (the County Commissioners) were insisting that the Board of Assessors terminate me. They really didn’t have a reason, other than that I just didn’t get along with some of the other office workers, from what I gather.”
“Well, they did have that meeting on the 14th, and even though I wasn’t supposed to go to work the next day, I did. It’s just in my nature. I’m not a lazy person. I just try to be there as much as I possibly can…
As I walked in, they did (as the commission requested them to do) asked me for my resignation. I asked them for what reason. One of the commissioners, Johnny Kissler, told me he wasn’t at liberty to discuss that with me, they were just asking me for my resignation…
But, I wanted to know why and I insisted on a reason…
Another board member, Woody Abney spoke up, and said, “If Johnny doesn’t want to tell you what we were told, then I’ll tell you what we were told. We were told that you don’t get along with other officers in the building…”
That was simply not true. So, I wanted to know if there was a way to appeal or have some kind of grievance hearing?
I was then told, “No there is not, and if there was, it wouldn’t do you any good, because they’ve made up their mind, they are sick of you and want you out…
Two deputies then told me to come in the office. They asked me for my keys….
Two of the members of the Board of Assessors, Agnes Jackson, and Woody Abney left.”
Ivey says she believes they left because Kistler was acting on his own in asking her to gather her things and leave. As a board, all they had agreed to do was ask for her resignation, and not to get her things and get out of the office.
“Later, they sent me a letter in the mail saying that I had resigned when I handed over my keys. Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Abney, said that I had not resigned.”
The commission chair June Jackson and Johnny Kistler said that’s the stand that they are taking, that I resigned when I handed over my keys.
The way I look at it, is that I was doing what I was told by superiors, in handing over my keys. I was intimidated and under duress to remove myself from the office.”
“I don’t understand how somebody can just fire you just because they are sick of you and want you out. If you are doing you job, and doing it well, how is that legal?”
Groups and Individuals Offer Assistance
Several Heard County activists, including NAACP President, Reverend Jimmy Curtis, former President Horace Turman, and other leaders are concerned about the way Ivy was abruptly terminated, and are assisting her in redressing the issue of her termination.
NAACP President Jimmy Curtis, said, “Our legal person, Mr. Bob Jackson, has interviewed Ms. Ivy, and we have done some preliminary investigating. We do believe that the whole situation is questionable. Even one of the members of the Board of Assessors, was in disagreement with her firing. The Commissioners said she resigned but there was no written or verbal resignation. Then they turned around and went into session, just to fire her. Still no reason. Somebody tried to come up with something about dress code. Who don’t dress like what in Franklin, Georgia? Then they said, that she didn’t get along with certain people… it turns out that was untrue. We think we may know the reason behind Ms. Ivey’s firing, but we are not at liberty to discuss it at this time. We are in the process of helping her to file the legal action.”
On September 17, Woodrow W. Abney, Sr., a member of the Heard County Board of Assessors, filed a Petition For Judicial Review in the Heard County Superior Court, requesting that the court hear a complaint between the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Assessors. In his complaint, Abney alleged Malfeasance, stating that the “Commissioners sought out a member of the Tax Assessor Board to fire the chief appraiser.” Abney wrote “Mr. Johnny Kistler, Sr. called a meeting on July 21, 2008 asking the Board to fire the Chief appraiser, Ms. Tammy Ivy. The board responded with a “no.” Mr. Johnny responded that the commissioners wanted her out. Heard County Commissioners called a meeting for August 14, 2008 at 6:00pm. At this meeting the commissioners interrogated me about my real estate property taxes, insinuating that I had special treatment since I was a member of the Tax Assessor’s Board. This was a fabrication and was used to try to intimidate me. I asked the board since this had no merit, what was the real reason we were called for the meeting. Mr. Lee Boone spoke for the board of commissioners and his statement was that they were sick of Tammy Ivy and wanted her out. They continued this process demanding that we fire Tammy Ivy. After two and one-half hours of harassment, we agreed to ask Tammy Ivy for her resignation. At this point, Johnny Kistler is no longer representing the board of Tax Assessors, but following the agenda of the Board of Commissioners. I Woodrow Abney and Agnes Jackson walked out of the room and then two Heard County deputies came into the room. I, Woodrow Abney feel like the board of commissioners have misused their power of office, and violated Tammy Ivy’s rights to due process.”
Concerns about Ivy’s termination, have led to additional questions being raised about the recent appointment of two new Assessor Board members, increasing the board’s number from three to five, with neither of the appointees being black.
Many feel strongly that the black segment of Heard County’s population ought to be represented on such a board, and the fact that it is not, is cause for concern and action.
Ivy says it has been “a nightmare” trying to find somebody to make them follow the law.
“Everybody tells me they are not doing right, and they’re not following the law, but nobody seems to be able to make them.”