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Rhea County property owners getting sticker shock; Vincent says tax rate to be adjusted down

(Chattanoogan) From the Chattanoogan: Rhea County property owners received a big shock in the mail this past week when reappraisals of their property


From the Chattanoogan: Rhea County property owners received a big shock in the mail this past week when reappraisals of their property were received in the mail.


Property Assessor Debbie Byrd addressed them as well as the Rhea County Commission Tuesday night about the state-mandated reappraisal. She said that some of the appraisals ran from 40 to 60 percent of what the current appraisal was. She added that property owners had recourse to appeal the appraisal by going to the County Board of Equalization which will meet the first two weeks of June. Her office will accept appointments in the last two weeks of May after final appraisals are mailed out.


She pointed out to the public and the Commission that the reason for such high reappraisals is the big sales of property in the county. She had five examples from across the county showing recent property sales – some triple the 2023 appraisal rate.


She said, “The Tennessee Comptroller’s office and Tennessee state law requires every county to do a reappraisal every five years. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean a tax increase because the law requires adjustment of the county property tax rate to bring in the same amount of money that it did in the previous year.”


Rhea County Executive Jim Vincent agreed with her and said that he has been working with Mrs. Byrd very closely during the reappraisal and, depending on the final figures after the Board of Equalization acts, the county could be looking at the certified tax rate between $1.37 to $1.40. “It could be that or a little more or a little less, but the rate will come down.” He said that rate “is what the state thinks we need to be set at.”


Commission Chairman Jim Reed stated to the commission and the audience, “Please understand that the reappraisal is set by the realtor industry and the state (not the commission or the property assessor).”


Community Activist June Griffin spoke before the commission on the reappraisals. “We are victims of the state. CTAS, a non-elected group, tells us what to do. In Tennessee we do have the right to refuse not to do what they say – under the U.S. Constitution, state Constitution and the Tennessee Bill of Rights.”


Mrs. Griffin, who has gone to all 95 counties delivering copies of the Ten Commandments along with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, told the commissioners that the property assessor in Rutherford County was trying to stop all persons over the age of 65 from having to pay property taxes. “He couldn’t get any help from the state or Governor Lee. Governor Lee needs to be recalled,” said Mrs. Griffin.


She said she called one of Governor Lee’s community specialists and, “when asked he didn’t know about the Tennessee Constitution or the Tennessee Bill of Rights.” Mrs. Griffin has not been at the commission meetings in almost a year due to health problems.


Tina Pierce said she had talked to 27 veterans, and they were all concerned of losing their houses from the actions of the reappraisal.


“Some of these have to decide between buying medicines they need or food,” said Mrs. Pierce. She said she personally was having problems with where the road by her house was put in incorrectly and when it rains it floods her property on Morgan Spring Road. She said it is washing away part of her property.


“It’s even affecting the buildings where I’m storing items to fix my house and I can’t get any help. No one would want to buy my place at what it was appraised at,” said Mrs. Pierce.


County Road Superintendent Glenn Varner and County Executive Vincent have both been out to Mrs. Pierce’s residence and told her at several commission meetings since the roadway was on the property of the Morgan Springs Baptist Church and it was private property, the county could not do anything about it.