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A Column by the Editor

Assess this...

web posted January 20, 2007

COLUMN – Like hundreds of other Edgefield County taxpayers I had my day with Edgefield County Tax Assessor Kesha Bryant to address the disparity in our assessment and subsequent tax bill on Thursday. After filing my county provided dispute form, with a meeting mandated within 30 days, I finally got my appointment some 47 days later. Assessor Bryant apologized saying a worker remembered seeing the form but it somehow got “misplaced”. Isn’t that special?

I received my notice of the appointment the day after it was scheduled. The county sent it to the wrong address. You would think they knew where we lived since they made the trip out to “assess” my property value. Fortunately I have made repeated trips to Ms. Bryant’s Office because of no notices, no information, and no contact in the matter and was informed of the date this week.

I will admit I went to the meeting expecting nothing less than what I got from Ms. Bryant. She was right, I was wrong, and how dare I challenge her random assessment.

Ms. Bryant asked why I thought our home was assessed too high and I simply stated the value of the home when I built it in 1999. “It’s worth more now,” Ms. Bryant replied. “Says who?” I asked. If you wanted to sell it that’s what it would be worth, Ms. Bryant said. “I’m not selling our house,” I shot back.

Ms. Bryant contended that if we did that would be the “market value”.

Then I asked Ms. Bryant a question. The county, state, and the federal government cannot tax me on unrealized gains stemming from investments. If I buy a stock or bond I cannot be taxed on the value of them until I sell the investment to gather the gains of my initial investment. How then, since our home is touted by local, state, and federal governments as, “the largest single investment a family will make,” any different?

She did not know, and when the deer looking at the headlights look went away she asked how much our home was insured for, “That’s none of your business,” I replied.

Then I asked how Edgefield County Councilman Monroe Kneece was able to purchase a house and then have assessment placed on the books lower than the value he paid. “I personally don’t look at all the properties,” Ms. Bryant stated. “You should,” I said, “That is your job.” I asked about My own county councilman’s home just a quarter mile away, larger, much larger, than ours being assessed lower. Again, no explanation. I asked why Councilman Willie Bright’s home did not reflect a finished basement with a family member living in a separate domicile.

“It has been corrected, it just doesn’t show up,” Ms. Bryant said. 

Then I asked how a 3,400 square foot brick two-story home just down the road from our home, a mere 2,400 square foot one story, is valued less than ours. “It has depreciation,” which brought the value down Bryant said. “Since when does a two-story brick house in Merriwether go down in value,” I asked. “And where is my depreciation then?” I asked.

Again Ms. Bryant was unable to answer my questions.

Then I asked about the zoning of Merriwether. “The Edgefield County Council said zoning was needed to protect property values. If someone were to place a mobile home on property next to yours it would lower your property value, right?” I asked.

“So you’re zoned?” Bryant asked. “No”, I said, “we live just outside the zoning but the only home that has been placed on bordering property since I built our home was a mobile home so our property value should be going down, not up,” I said. “Unless our county councilmen were lying, which is it?”

Again I got a blank stare.

When Ms. Bryant continued to refuse to justify her assessment of our property I just ended the meeting by asking for the paperwork needed to appeal her unexplainable decision and filed the same with her. Of course now I have to wait 90 days to force the issue further.

I am looking forward to my next beyond the required time mandated meeting with county officials.


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