Pickens Seniors For CHange
This email was sent to Rick Jasperse on Sept 27, 2015:
Dear Mr. Jasperse,
This Communication is to familiarize you with recent developments concerning Pickens Seniors for Change's battle to encourage you to place the senior tax exemption on the ballot for next year. Time is growing short. You must push this through. We know you would like to be re-elected, and putting the senior tax exemption measure on the 2016 ballot would make you a hero in Pickens County.
As we have previously informed you, much of the financial problems of Pickens is to be found in the Tax Assessors Office (failure to re-valuate property), and the Tax Commissioners Office (failure to collect back taxes and force tax foreclosures for non-payment of taxes)
The Tax Commissioners Office:
As admitted by Sharon Trogline (when asked via email what is being done to collect back taxes), she replied that many homeowners are paying in installments. Since Pickens County has no Code or Ordinance addressing the issue of installment payments (for property tax), the Tax Commissioner is violating O.C.G.A. 48-5-23. O.C.G.A. 48-5-23 specifically states..."assessments on tangible property other than motor vehicles in installments with a single billing for the current tax year based on the current final tax digest as authorized by the commissioner pursuant to Code Section 48-5-345, or on a temporary digest authorized by the judge of superior court pursuant to Code Section 48-5-310. The resolution or ordinance required by this subsection shall be adopted by the governing authority of the county or municipal corporation on or before December 31 for the next succeeding year." We could find no such ordinance or resolution in the Codes/Ordinances of Pickens County.
The Tax Assessors Office:
According to Georgia law, valuation of property should be administered every year. Now...we know that is not being done. (except to a few newcomers). We consider that inaction a dereliction of duty, as state in O.C.G.A. 48-5-140. Assessments are regulated by the State. If the laws are not being followed, the State will come down on Pickens County like a ton of bricks.
A Mandamus action could order both the Tax Commissioner's office and the Tax Assessor's office to follow the law...not "but we've always done it that way" as an answer generally repeated.
Another important issue: O.C.G.A. 36-89-4 outlines how grants of State money is allocated to counties and municipalities. As a rule, you commonly affirm that senior school tax exemption is just a shift in the tax burden. That is not true. The property tax on homeowners under the age of 65 would increase only by a small amount. Did you know that, according to O.C.G.A. 36-89-4, if a county gives seniors school tax exemption, the State will allocate more money to that county?
In summation: There are many ways to increase the property tax revenue in this County, and, in addition, give seniors an exemption from school taxes.
First, re-valuate properties, and bring them up-to-date.
Second, collect back taxes and initiate tax foreclosures.
Third, collect more money from the State via O.C.G.A. 36-89-4.
We have given you all the tools necessary to push the school tax exemption through Congress.
We will continue to delve into the operations and financial records of Pickens. Irregularities (in other counties) are being discovered on a routine basis, and elected officials are being arrested frequently. But the more we "dig," the more we uncover things that "just don't seem quite right" in Pickens County. We don't think it is blatant disregard for the law. It is more of ignorance of the law, because "they have always done it that way," never considering that they may be breaking the law.
From experience, we know the leaders in Pickens will not listen to anyone telling them they are doing something wrong. They refuse to consider the possibility, or to research the situation to make sure. They just give you the answer they think you are looking for, and if you persist, they shut down. Because they don't know the answer themselves.
Thank you for your time.
Pickens Seniors for Change
This letter was sent to Representative Rick Jasperse on June 8, 2015.
Dear Rep. Jasperse,
Attached, you will find copies of a letter sent to each of Pickens County Commissioners. We have yet to hear from them.
Our group has learned that we DO NOT have to go through the Commissioners to get the senior exemption measure placed on the ballot. We just have to convince you to do it. You don't have to "do what the Commissioners want." Do what the people of this County want.
Using one of the plans outlined, all you have to do is present it to the Georgia Congress for approval to get the measure put on the ballot. You should read Rep. Amos Amerson's article (reprinted on our website), regarding his fight for senior exemption.
Please peruse our website. It is very informative. We gain new members almost daily. The senior homeowners of Pickens County get more angry each day we go without property tax relief. It's time our elected officials did something about it.
Another website that you should visit is:
The site is not owned by the Pickens Seniors for Change, but we wholeheartedly approve and applaud their effort to uncover fraud and corruption in this County. And we (like the Tax Watchers website) have also found that the Tax Assessors office is the place to begin.
Please feel free to contact us via our website, using the "contact" page, or via our email address.
Pickens Seniors for Change
This letter was sent to Representative Rick Jasperse on August 17, 2015
Dear Representative Jasperse,
Attached, you will find a legal draft of the exemption measure to be presented to the Georgia Congress for approval to be placed on the ballot in 2016. All you have to do is assign a House Bill Number to it, and present it to Congress.
Also included is another example of a plan of taxation for Pickens County homeowners.
We have done much of the work for you. The rest is up to you.
Commissioner Jones, when asked why seniors in this County do not have discounts or exemptions, has always "passed the buck" to the County School Board, or to the County school system employees, saying it's "up to them."
Now, we all know that is not true. Not when over 200 of the employees of Pickens County School System DO NOT own land or live in Pickens County. Included are four principals, four assistant principals, and numerous teachers and personnel. According to the 2014 public tax records, the Superintendent of Schools, Lula Mae Perry, does not even own land in this County. These people do not have the right to express one way or another whether senior homeowners in this County are entitled to school tax exemptions.
And now the Commissioners have the nerve to ask the voters in this County to pass an EF-SPLOST. The State law has been changed, and no longer requires counties to collect a percentage from school systems for the collection of education taxes for them. However, Pickens County still does it. Where does that money go? And why doesn't it show up on the County's financial statements? Why don't they use that money, instead of asking for additional taxes from the citizens of this County?
Why doesn't the County officials make a concentrated effort to collect the two-million-dollar-plus from delinquent property taxpayers? The County supposedly waits until a property owner is two years behind in their taxes before seizing their property for auction. However, according to public records, some property owners are in arrears three or more years.
We could see the extra SPLOST being asked for if the seniors of this County had property tax exemptions. That's what other counties do to make up for the loss in revenue.
Another problem: The County still collects a tax to support the hospital. The County no longer owns the hospital. Where does that money go? Why doesn't it show up on the financial statements?
Is it going to take lawsuit to demand an examination of the County's books to see where all this money is going? A forensic examination, like the Grand Jury requested? Why would the Commissioners refuse such an audit? Do they have something to hide?
If you haven't approached the Commissioners about our requests yet, time is growing short. We have presented examples of five taxation plans to you and the Commissioners. And have presented you with the legal document needed to present the measure to the Georgia Congress. The senior homeowners of Pickens County would greatly appreciate it if you would take some action on this matter.
Subsequent to our research, we believe there are other reasons the Commissioners refuse to grant senior homeowners tax exemption (or to increase the income threshold to a more agreeable amount, including a C.O.L.A.)
Thanking you in advance, and please advise your course of action or next step.
Pickens Seniors for Change