Reappraisal plan could impact Village properties

Stephanie Myers-News-Herald 

Loudon County Commission hopes to move one step closer to addressing delinquent properties in Tellico Village.

Commission approved Monday evening a resolution authorizing a continuous four-year reappraisal cycle for the 32,000 properties in Loudon County. Property Assessor Mike Campbell said the resolution only renews contract work that is part of routine property assessment business.

"In a four-year cycle we will basically look at the entire county in three years and on the fourth year do an appraisal evaluation. It's an inspection period over three years," Campbell said. After the appraisal, the property tax rate is adjusted to reflect the assessment, he said.

Though the commission's approval Monday did not have a direct impact, it could later play a role on delinquent properties.

The county is responsible for paying tax and Tellico Village homeowner dues on 250-plus delinquent properties in Tellico Village, Commissioner Don Miller said. Those properties that are delinquent on taxes are put up for sale after multiple years of unpaid property taxes. If the property does not sell, the county takes ownership and responsibility for the property.

"In the next month or so, Mike will be able to tell us what has happened to the assessed values and therefore what must happen to the property tax rate to keep the revenues constant," Miller said.

Miller said while the Tellico Village Property Owners Association is willing to forgo dues on the delinquent properties, a solution to address the situation is still in the works.

"From their (the POA) standpoint, yeah it's nice you get $250,000 but you totally destroy your image and reputation in Loudon County. What do you think people are going to say when they find out some of their tax money is going to Tellico Village to pay for people to play golf down there? I think Loudon County and Tellico Village are quite willing to find a solution," Miller said.

"We had a proposed bill that we thought satisfied everybody and the banks and the real estate agents and all these lobbyists came down on the state legislature and so (Rep.) Jimmy (Matlock, R-Lenoir City) was unable to get this bill passed. We are still working on it because it's a much bigger issue than Tellico Village," Miller said, adding state legislators created a committee to "see if they can come up with something" over the summer.

As a county commissioner and resident in Tellico Village, Miller said he is torn on the issue.

"The problem in my view is the county didn't have the choice. We had to follow state law. ... That's a quarter of a million dollars a year that the county is legally obligated to pay to the property owners association," Miller said. "It really is a statewide issue."

In other business, commission approved:

A resolution to refinance Series E3Z bonds and change the bank. First Tennessee will replace Belgian bank KBC Bank, which decided not to renew its letter of credit with Loudon County.

Mayor Estelle Herron said she believed refinancing the bonds will be "a much better deal. We'll save the county some money in interest."
Scott Gibson with Cumberland Securities, who briefed commissioners on the switch, agreed, saying fees were lower.

Commissioner Sharon Yarbrough was the sole dissenting vote, saying commissioners did not receive enough time to assess the information.
"I am disappointed that our financial advisor just got it to us today or at least that's when the legislative body has been given this information that we need to take action. ... I feel that we've been given something at the last minute to make a decision that we should have had time to think about," Yarbrough said.

An application and acceptance of a Department of Energy Emergency Planning and Response grant for next fiscal year. There are no matching funds for the grant.
"These funds are typically used for training exercises to prepare emergency response personnel in the event of an emergency or a disaster," Loudon County Budget Director Tracy Blair told commission.

A resolution authorizing application and acceptance of a litter and trash collection grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Amendments to seven funds that are a part of the current fiscal year budget. The county general fund will see a $32,000 decrease in the projected ending fund balance, according to Blair.

After an increase in revenues and a decrease in expenditures, the recycling centers fund will see a $97,000 increase in the projected ending fund balance. The county drug fund will have a $800 increase and the highway department fund will have a $94,000 increase.