Allen v. Norris, 56502

Citation251 S.E.2d 145,148 Ga.App. 261
Decision Date28 November 1978
Docket NumberNo. 56502,56502
PartiesALLEN et al. v. NORRIS et al.
CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)

Wilson & Trotter, William A. Trotter, III, Augusta, for appellants.

Dye, Miller, Bowen & Tucker, A. Rowland Dye, Augusta, for appellees.


Appellants, freeholders of property in Columbia County, brought this action against the members of the Columbia County Board of Tax Assessors, demanding their removal from office under the provisions of Code Ann. § 92-6909. That statute provides for the removal from office of tax assessors for, among other causes, failure to properly and impartially discharge their duties. This appeal is from a judgment in favor of the tax assessors. In three enumerations of error, appellants contend the trial court erred in not finding that the appellees had failed to properly and impartially discharge their duties.

1. The first enumeration of error alleges that the assessors failed to fairly and justly equalize the valuations on taxable property in violation of the duty imposed by Code Ann. § 92-6911(a). The trial court found, on evidence which authorized such a finding, that the assessors, upon taking office at the beginning of 1977, discovered that certain property in the county had not been assessed the last time a general reassessment was made. To correct that situation, the assessors inspected the property in question and assessed it at what they considered to be the fair market value as of January 1, 1974, the date as of which the rest of the property in the county was appraised.

Those findings authorized the trial court's conclusion that the assessors had not failed in their duty to "see that all taxable property within the county is assessed . . . at its just and fair valuation and that valuations as between the individual taxpayers are fairly and justly equalized so that each taxpayer shall pay as near as may be only his proportionate share of taxes." Code Ann. § 92-6911(a). There is no merit to the first enumeration of error.

2. In their third enumeration of error, appellants argue that appellees failed in the duty above quoted by assessing all the property as of January 1, 1974, rather than as of January 1, 1977. We do not find in the statute a restriction limiting the date for fixing valuation to the year in which the assessment was made, and prohibiting fixing valuation as of a prior year. The requirement of the law is that all property be assessed at its just and fair valuation. The clear import of the section is to ensure that the burden of taxation is spread evenly over the taxpayers, according to a fair valuation of their property holdings. Appellants have not shown that the tax assessors failed to properly and impartially discharge their duties by setting the valuations as of a date three years back. So long as the valuations are fair and just and all property is assessed as of the same date, there is no statutory mandate that a particular date be chosen. The third enumeration presents no ground for reversal.

3. The second enumeration of error addresses the failure of the assessors to complete the tax digest within the time required by Code Ann. § 92-6917. That section requires that the tax assessors complete their work by June 1. The uncontradicted evidence in this case shows that the tax digest was not delivered to the tax commissioner until June 7, 1977. Clearly, there was a failure to comply with the statutory duty placed on the assessors to complete their work by June 1.

The trial court, however, disposed of that ground of the petition for removal by holding that the requirement of §...

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