This is the conclusion, or part 2, of last week’s column https://columbiacountyconservativeviewpoint.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/animal-farm-part-1/ on certain irregularities pertaining to assessed property values in Columbia County. We left off referencing Columbia County’s GIS, http://188.8.131.52/columbia/default.htm
On the same “parcel search” location on the county’s website, enter either “Westside Industries”, or Parcel ID 065304. If you go to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website and do a corporate search, you will discover that Chairman Cross is CEO of Westside Industries. Westside Industries was created in 1990 by Cross, but its certificate was revoked by the Georgia Secretary of State in 2008 for failing to file the required annual registration. The certificate was reinstated in March of 2009; however it is currently listed as “Active/Noncompliance”.
According to the Columbia County’s website, Westside Industries purchased this property in 2004 for $185,000. We heard that when Cross defends higher taxes in Columbia County he claims he only paid $60,000 for the property, and then asks who wouldn’t want to pay higher taxes when property values are appreciating at such a rapid pace? Either way, the property is currently valued at $192,500 by the county. In 6 years his top-secret golf course lot has increased in value, according to the Columbia County assessment, by only 4%. This situation really gets interesting when you research who Cross bought the property from and some of the valuations for remaining unsold land. This is a matter for another day, but there are direct ties to District 1 Commissioner/Vice Chairman Ron Thigpen and Georgia Bank and Trust.
Now let’s look at some of Cross’ neighbors. Right next door, parcel 065303 was purchased in 2004 for $165,000. Today the county has it valued at $183,750, for a difference of 11.4%.
Right across the street, parcel 065267 was purchased in 2004 for $185,000, and today the county has it assessed at $210,000, for a difference of 13.5%.
To us it looks like Cross’ valuation increased by 4% yet his neighbors increased by over 11%. Keep in mind that the higher the valuation, the higher taxes you pay.
It should be noted that we did find two parcels of land under Cross’s wife’s name in Columbia County. One can only speculate as to why our commission chairman would want to hide property ownership in the name of a dummy corporation and his spouse. AND REMEMBER, THE NEWS TIMES AND A LOCAL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST MADE AN ISSUE OF 2010 SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE CARL SCHLUTER NOT BEING A PROPERTY OWNER…but they circled the wagons for Ron Cross (go figure).
Just a random picking, but the first house we found outside Champions Retreat that sold in 2004, Parcel 077H049, was purchased for $260,000. It is currently valued by the county at $342,617, for an increase of 31.8%.
Keep in mind that we are talking about reported sales prices compared to county valuation. If you really want to get agitated, compare your 2002 tax bill to the one you received in 2010.
We know many of you homeowners have complained to the county commission that you did not want speed “humps” in your neighborhood, but the county had them installed anyway. It seems that you have to be in the know to get your way. At December’s commission meeting there were four proposals for the installation of speed humps. Three were approved and one was not. Seems Mr. George Duehring, a member of the Columbia County Development Authority, rents one of his buildings to the Development Authority and Columbia County. He spoke against the installation of speed humps in his neighborhood, Deer Run. The commission voted not to install them there but approved the other three.
Call your commissioners and let them know what you think.