2012-03-22 / Front Page

JLG’s Tax Appeal To Go To Court

County, CFSD to share cost of expert fees, costs
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

A tax assessment appeal filed by JLG Industries Inc. against the county, Central Fulton School District and Ayr Township is moving forward and is slated to be heard in the Fulton County Court of Common Pleas this fall.

In a case management order dated February 22, the court ordered a trial in this matter to be held Friday, October 26, at 9 a.m. Representing JLG in the matter is attorney John C. Hyon of Clifton, NJ., while solicitor Roberta Binder Heath is scheduled to represent the school. Stanley Kerlin will serve in the capacity of legal counsel for both the county and Ayr Township.

The matter dates back to October 4, 2011, when then-Fulton County commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, David Hoover II and Craig Cutchall sat down as the Fulton County Board of Assessment Appeals for the purpose of an appeal hearing. Nearly three weeks later the board handed down a decision that denied a reduction in the tax assessment and therefore redesignated the company’s assessed values at $26,870 for land and $7,310,100 for improvements.

The assessment is based on a total of 59.99 acres on the east side of Cito Road as well as an estimated 512,810 square feet of building space.

According to attorney Hyon, in a petition for appeal, the county’s assessment of the property is “substantially higher than assessments of comparable properties in the taxing district.”

“The assessment is based on an erroneous determination of the fair market value ... , ” alleged Hyon, who further maintains the assessment and value determination violates not only the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment but also the Uniformity Clause of the state Constitution.

Hyon added the assessment “lacks uniformity ... is discriminatory ... and is otherwise unjust and inequitable.” As a result, JLG, through its legal counsel, is requesting a reversal of the prior decision of the Assessment Appeal Board and therefore a reduction in the assessment.

In the event JLG Industries’ request for a lower assessed value of their property is upheld by the Court of Common Pleas, the Central Fulton School District could stand to lose $57,000 in tax revenue. In addition, the county’s loss would be approximately $20,000.

As part of their preparations for an upcoming court case, the Central Fulton School Board announced last Tuesday night they would agree to “share expert costs and fees with the county regarding tax assessment appeal litigation.” Board member Ryan Richards voted against the matter during the 8-1 roll-call vote.

The possibility of Ayr Township sharing a portion of fees accrued has not yet been brought to the attention of the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Gary “Punch” Hopkins told the “News.” No discussions on the matter have been held up until this point by the board.

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