COFFEEVILLE – A tax complaint by the county’s former tax assessor/collector was addressed at Monday’s supervisor meeting. As part of the tax process prior to the 2014-15 county budget being adopted, Guy Dale Shaw initially filed a registered complaint with the Board of Super-visors asking for his entire 160-acre homestead assessment to be taxed at 10 percent, instead of his 2.9-acre home-site being taxed at 10 percent and the remaining 157.1 acres to be taxed at 15 percent.
Supervisors did not grant Shaw’s request last month following a public hearing, prompting Shaw to submit a letter to the editor to both the North Mississippi Herald and Coffeeville Courier last week. Shaw’s letter (see page 5) also included his original complaint submitted to the county, which contained unsubstantiated allegations against Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn. Both the Courier and Herald discussed the matter with McMinn last Friday after the letter was delivered.
“You the board members ERRONEOUSLY disallowed my 10 percent assessment of 160-acre Homestead – under Section 27-35-4, without any notification from the Chancery Clerk,” Shaw wrote in his original complaint, adding that both he and his father, also a former tax assessor for the county, filled out every homestead in the county for six decades.
Addressing The Tax Complaint
Fielding questions from Board Attorney John Crow, Tax Assessor/Collector Linda Shuffield explained the county is using the same taxing procedure established when Shaw was in office.
“He was apparently confused that he didn’t get his proper homestead exemption for 160 acres, as well as his 10 percent classification,” Board Attorney John Crow explained, before asking Tax Assessor/Collector Linda Shuffield to clarify the matter.
Shuffield added that Shaw was given the lower 10 percent assessment for his homestead on 2.9 acres, while the remaining 157.1 acres were assessed at a higher 15 percent assessment. This allows you to have a home site and site improvement taxed in the 10 percent class, up to three acres, Shuffield explained. In Shaw’s case, 2.9 percent qualified for the 10 percent assessment, while the remaining 157.1 is classified as agriculture use value, assessed at 15 percent.
“It’s under the same system that he installed in 1986,” Shuffield added, referring to Shaw, adding that the only difference is that in 1990 the law changed allowing the lower 10 percent assessment on the actual home site.
“Was it 15 percent when he was assessor?” Crow asked.
“Yes,” Shuffield answered.
“Is he confused?” Crow asked.
“It is a confusing complaint,” Shuffield answered. “He was not denied his homestead, he was exempt on the house and 160 acres,” Shuffield added.
“I just want to make sure my order says that, because he has appellant rights. He is entitled to that, we give him everything we give everybody else,” Crow answered.
Addressing The Allegations
Next McMinn addressed Shaw’s allegations that she had not notified Shaw of the board’s decision to deny his claim following last month’s public hearing and subsequent meeting. McMinn also addressed Shaw’s allegations that the taxpayers are paying the Chancery Clerk for an illegal tax roll, floating illegal bonds, collecting illegal taxes, illegal property tax sales and illegal salary increases.
McMinn first explained that Shaw had not been notified of the board’s decision to deny his request because of the board order from the August 14 meeting was only official when the minutes were approved.
“It was approved this morning in the minutes,” Crow told supervisors.
“I have been told from day one the board speaks from the minutes, not by me,” McMinn said, adding that she would now mail Shaw a copy of the board order.
As for Shaw’s allegations, Amy McMinn addressed them individually.
• Illegal tax roll
McMinn explained that prior to 2003 the chancery clerk provided the tax rolls, a mammoth document printed on paper in triplicate, and was paid extra. After 2003, the tax roll was provided on a cd and the county no longer pays the chancery clerk for reproduction of the tax roll.
• Floating illegal bonds
“The Chancery Clerk does not float illegal bonds. I do not float legal bonds, I do not get paid for bonds that are floated,” McMinn explained in the meeting.
• Collecting illegal taxes
“The assessor collects taxes,” McMinn explained.
• Illegal property tax sale
“The assessor conducts the sale,” she added.
• Illegal salary increases
“I have researched this, somebody may prove me wrong, but I have not been able to find where we are supposed to publish that in the paper,” McMinn concluded, referring to Shaw’s final complaint that all salaries paid out of ad valorem money should be published in the papers each month.
“I would like to assure the citizens of Yalobusha County that we follow the procedures,” she said.
Board President Tommy Vaughn was first to speak following McMinn.
“We live in a free country and we have a lot of rights to say things that are on my mind. And write letters to the editor stating our concerns. But we really need to take into consideration the hurtfulness that is done when all the facts are not brought out because when people read print, they have a tendency to believe it,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn added that in his 11 years serving as supervisor, both Shuffield and Amy McMinn have been exemplary public servants.
“I hope I am speaking for the whole board,” Vaughn added.
“You do. I would say these two are superb in fulfilling their job and they do it with class,” District Two Supervisor Amos Sims agreed. “They are diligent and dedicated to their office.”
District 5 Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman noted that Shuffield had explained why the entire 160 acres did not fall in the 10 percent assessment.
“You worked with him how many years?” Tillman asked.
“I worked with him for 22 years before I took office,” Shuffield said.
“This seems more like a personal attack than it did a statement to the citizens of the county,” Vaughn added.