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Whoops! Man’s property value dropped after all

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In a previous letter, I attempted to alert the public about the possible results of an audit before our Tax Equalization Board.
Due to the difference in the arrival of the notice of an increase of appraisal, a lag in the printing of my letter, and my learning the total effect of the Board’s decision, a person reading that letter is left with a false impression of the facts.
As a result, I’m now left with some “crow to eat.”
We later learned what actually precipitated the $4,800 appraisal increase was a perusal of the number of plumbing fixtures in our house, during our audience with the board.
I would never have dreamed that the absence of three faucets would be such a significant determinate in the evaluation of a house. Thank God they were not gold plated!
After learning this, I believe that if I have a second life, I will work in the field of plumbing, not nuclear development. Be that as it may, it explains the increase that we received, with no knowledge of why or what other action was taken.
Early, on the morning that the letter appeared, I received a phone call from Teresa Kirkham, not at all happy with my letter, but dutifully armed with all of the facts to explain what had transpired.
It seems that the change in the number of faucets had automatically triggered a computer to raise our appraisal and mail a new card minus an explanation.
We were also informed, for the first time, that the board had reduced our appraisal, which, more than compensated for the $4,800 increase. We are glad we appealed, appreciate the final results and feel confirmed in our belief that our original appraisal was excessive.
We appreciate the time and effort spent on our behalf by the board. I hope that all of this has not created too much confusion, stepped on too many toes or ruffled too many feathers. If so, I apologize for my part of it.
During my talks with Ms. Kirkham, I was issued an updated real estate appraisal card. Out of curiosity I counted the number of possible entries on this document that determines our appraisal. There are more than 200 possible entries, most of which I don’t have a clue about.  I believe that few in the general public would. (I do now know about the faucet thing.)
If our appraisals are determined by a system of that complexity, it is not surprising that its use generates so much misunderstanding. I believe that the county should make some effort toward having the public better understand what really determines their appraisal, through either the newspaper or on the county’s website.
Some effort toward that end should prevent a great deal of public animosity at appraisal time.
We tend to react to a new appraisal or tax increase as we would to a traffic ticket.
We vent our ire on the cop who writes the ticket or the judge setting the fine, instead of at the guy in Nashville who wrote the law.
In her position at the bottom of the state tax totem pole, Ms. Kirkham is both our cop and judge.
To simplify our tax system, maybe it’s time to promote our “cop.”
I would like to now draw a verbal “what’s wrong with this picture” for our newly elected county officials.
I have saved all of my property tax data for the last 18 years and have added the total tax paid during that period.
At the present tax rate, if I survive two more years, that total will have exceeded the total initial cost of constructing our house and the property it was built on.
Conversely, a few miles up the interstate, there exists a multi-million-dollar business that I’m told pays no tax for a total of 18 years, and is located in an industrial park being paid for by Roane County Taxpayers.
To date, I have heard of no return on that investment to the county.
That sweetheart arrangement was created by a previous county government without any test of approval by the taxpayers.
This apparently was done at the behest of un-elected individuals who placed a higher value on their judgment than that of the public.
This fetish for industrial development was apparently inherited by the last administration, and resulted in the investment of another $2 million, again without the approval of the people who pay the bill.
This is beginning to resemble the prevailing attitude in Washington D.C.
Please, the next time you think of industrializing our county, go take a look at Swan Pond.
The greatest attribute this county has is the topography and Watts Bar Lake. Don’t ruin it!

Thomas Quinby
Kingston