Heard County: Questions Loom in The Wake Of Ivy’s Firing
You’ll Be Amazed
News and Opinion Article
By Marilyn Bledsoe Ray
Writer’s Note: This writer discovered at the September 2, 2008 assessor’s board meeting that no minutes were taken August 15, 2008. Minutes have been written after-the-fact and approved by two of the three board members.
The two Heard County Sheriff’s Deputies who guard the entrance to the courthouse were positioned in the Tax Assessors Board Office when Chief Tax Assessors Board Office when Chief Tax Assessors Board Called Meeting for August 15, 2008. Ivy has spoken of her surprise to see them. She asked the deputies, “What’s going on?” They only shrugged. Next, she asked if she could enter her office (the door was closed.) The deputies shrugged.
Inside her office, she found the “three member tax assessor’s board. Tammy Ivy learned the Heard County Commission had a called meeting the evening before to meet with the tax assessors and the attorney for both boards, Jerry Ann Conner.
Assessors were told to fire Tammy Ivy. That meeting lasted approximately 2 and ½ hours according to a petition filed in Superior Court by Woodrow Abney. When Agnes Jackson and Woodrow Abney refused, they were badgered into agreeing to ask Ivy for her resignation. Note: The Abney petition filed in Superior Court states that during the two and one-half hour meeting, Commissioner Lee Boone, speaking on behalf of the Commission, said they were sick of Tammy Ivy and wanted her out.
These “official” minutes of August 15th gave no hint of a shocked woman asking “Why?” These minutes do not reveal Johnny Kistler ordering her to turn in her keys, etc., and leave nor a sobbing Tammy Ivy. There is no statement revealing that Tammy Ivy did not resign and that neither Agnes Jackson nor Woody Abney agreed with what was happening. (Apparently, Agnes Jackson has since “changed her mind”. Some are wondering if someone persuaded her.)
Question: Why did the County Commission interfere at all? Georgia law states the Commission appoints the Assessors and is required to fund that office but they are not to interfere at all!
Many citizens are questioning: Why hasn’t Jerry Ann Conner recused herself (stepped aside) because of conflict between the two boards for which she serves as legal counsel?
Conner knows the law. Why has she been a party to this interference?
Georgia Law is structured to prevent County Commissioners from trying to “run” the Assessors Office. Do the present commissioners want to lower their personal property taxes? Are they just ignorant of the law? Perhaps a clue comes from a commission candidate’s political ad. One of his goals is to reevaluate property and lower taxes. Don’t be misled. The state Department of Revenue has requirements and formulas that appraisers must use. None of us like to pay taxes, but can you imagine what it would be like if commissioners get involved?
During the September 2, 2008 Tax Assessors Board Meeting, one of the board members said in a discussion of hiring a “new” chief appraiser, “They want us to hire in house.” It isn’t difficult to guess the names of the individuals the word “they” represents. The in-house appraiser now appointed Acting Chief Appraiser has only two years experience. She is a Level II; Heard County needs a level III. She has been given eight months to become a Level III. If she achieves the goal of Level III will she be up to the task with only two years experience?
Some heard County citizens who understand what is going on (interference) have become cynical. Do the commissioners think they can control the young woman that has been made acting appraiser? Do they think she’ll be so grateful that she’ll lower their property taxes?