ERWIN — Erwin Town Recorder Randy Trivette wants to set the record straight — the town of Erwin has been paying its part for costs associated with the reappraisal process.
The town’s monetary contribution to the reappraisal process was questioned at a recent meeting of the Unicoi County Commission. The commission met in a special called session Monday for the purpose of considering adoption of the 2017 reappraisal plan for the Unicoi County Assessor of Property.
As commissioners reviewed the plan, an item contained within it became the focus of the meeting. Commissioner Doug Bowman said the plan states that if the county, which handles the reappraisals, shares information with the town of Erwin, then the town is supposed to pay half of the costs.
Unicoi County Assessor of Property Patsy Bennett told commissioners that she was unaware of Erwin paying a portion in previous reappraisals. After some discussion, the commissioners present unanimously approved the reappraisal plan, which was to be sent to the state, with the request that the town of Erwin reimburse its portion of the reappraisal costs in the future.
Trivette said the county’s Property Assessor’s office completes the town’s tax rolls and tax cards. The town uses values from appraisals conducted by the office to apply to its property tax rate, Trivette said.
The state law that was the subject of much of the discussion at Monday’s meeting is Tennessee Code Annotated 67-5-1601. This code essentially states that the town would be responsible for paying half of the costs associated with the reappraisal process on parcels of property falling within the town’s limits. Trivette said it does not mean that the town would be responsible for half of the total cost of county-wide reappraisals.
“We’re very, very familiar with it and aware of it,” Trivette said of the code.
Trivette also said this is a code the town has adhered to. In 2007, the last reappraisal year, the town paid $12,963.32 for reappraisal costs and paid $14,910.17 in 2001, the reappraisal year prior to 2007, Trivette said.
“So this is something historically that we’ve always done,” Trivette said. “It’s by state law, we’re mandated to do it, and we’ve never questioned it or never challenged it. We’ve always paid it. It’s what we’re obligated to pay because we receive that tax information.”
Trivette said Unicoi County Trustee Paul Berry has record of these previous payments in his office. Trivette also said he has spoken with Bennett and several commissioners, all of whom were unaware that these invoices had been paid by the town.
“I think it would have been nice if somebody had picked up the phone and called or done a little more research to see, because we have been paying it,” Trivette said. “We don’t object to it. We want to pay it.”
Bennett said she has spoken with Trivette and the matter has been cleared up with Erwin officials.
“It’s all cleared up and everything’s OK,” she said.
The county benefits from Erwin’s reappraisal information because the county receives property tax revenues from city residents and property parcels located in the town, Trivette said.
This year marks another reappraisal year, as reappraisals are done every five years. This means the town will soon receive another invoice, one that the town, as it has in the past, intends to pay, Trivette said.
“One of the things we strive to do is adhere to the law and do what’s right,” Trivette said. “We want to do what’s fair and right.”