County Assessor Tisha Hampton asks for new member on excise board
Before the Logan County Commissioners addressed the agenda concerning the Excise/Equalization board in their latest meeting, County Assessor Tisha Hampton read from a prepared statement during open comments from citizens. Hampton said the current excise board publicly opposed of her lowering the real property tax assessment ratio.
For video reference, see video past this story. This topic begins at 3:35 into the meeting.
“It has come to my attention that the current incumbent excise board publicly expressed opposition to the lowering of the tax rate,” Hampton said. “I am going to ask each member off the commissioners to appoint a new excise board member, who will support tax fairness and who will stand with the people, because I believe we should start with a fair and balance board. One that represents all the people of Logan County.”
The excise board is comprised of three positions in the county. The District Judge appoints the District One position, the Oklahoma Tax Commission/State Senator appoints District Two and the Board of County Commissioners appoints District 3.
Currently, Kenny Davis holds the district one position, Marilyn Branch sits in the district two seat and John Pfeiffer sits in district three.
During the meeting it was determined that the commissioners, by law, do not have to go through the application program to seat the open position and can simply reappoint the sitting member. Each commissioner agreed not accepting applications would not be the proper action.
County Clerk Troy Cole clarified that the excise board does not determine the assessment values, but that is a decision of the assessor. The excise board does not have the authority to raise or lower the assessment taxes.
Announced on the last day in Dec. 2013, Hampton lowered the property tax from 12 to 11 percent. She is the first county assessor in Oklahoma to lower the assessment ratio since the state question was approved in 1996. Related story: Logan County property taxes set to fall by 8 percent
The tax decrease lowered the amount of tax money for the Guthrie, Coyle, Crescent and Mulhall school districts beginning with the 2014-15 school year. Along with the public schools, county rural fire departments, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, County Commissioners, Meridian Vo-Tech and Francis Tuttle also received the lowered tax dollar amounts.
“There has been a great amount of opposition for that decision. Despite that opposition, it was the right thing to do for the people of Logan County and it is my belief that at least one member of the excise board should reflect this sentiment,” Hampton said.
District 3 County Commissioner Monty Piercy said he did not want to debate the topic, but said “would we really kick someone off the board for having an opinion?”
County resident Dax Ewbank, sitting next to Hampton, shared his public comments by saying, “If we are going to have an excise board that is suspect in that regard, particularly with recent votes we have had in Logan County with regard to raising taxes, the will of the people was made known in southern Logan County – a definite voice about that.”
“And if the county commissioners don’t want to take that into effect then southern Logan County may come into effect for your job too. It’s our property, it’s not your property,” Ewbank concluded with.
Hampton continued from the printed paper, “I take my job very serious as the Logan County Assessor. I believe very strongly in tax assessment fairness for all. It was unfair for the people living in southern Logan County on the north side of Waterloo to pay a higher tax for the same services of the people living on the south side of Waterloo road. It was unfair to all the property owners in Logan County to be forced to pay a higher tax than the surrounding counties.”
The commissioners agreed to take applications for the four-year term and possibly take action to appoint the excise tax board member at the March 2 board meeting.
Hampton: Schools have received millions
During the appointment conversation, Hampton shared that the lowering of the tax has not damaged the schools.
“As far as lowering the tax and lowering the amount of revenue – it’s been very slight because the petroleum that we put on has really balanced that out. Their money has not been lowered a lot. The schools has received millions that they hadn’t received before because of the new petroleum that has been put on. So, I looked at both sides before I lowered that. I did not want to hurt the schools, I wanted to help the people and I wanted to do what is right.”