SHELBY CO., Tenn. - The Shelby County Tax Assessor said officials are potentially missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue.
Melvin Burgess said his office doesn’t have enough staff to assess and collect money generated from expiring PILOTs.
He requested more funding from the county, but it wasn’t in Mayor Lee Harris’ budget proposal.
“I’ll do the best I can with what I have but that’s not the best when I know I should have more to do my job as an elected official, so I think a friendly lawsuit wouldn’t be that bad,” said Burgess.
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Burgess said he’s considering a lawsuit if he doesn’t get enough funding for his department from commissioners. He said his office doesn’t have enough deputy assessors on staff.
State statue said Shelby County needs 88 assessors but right now there are only 42. Earlier this year, Burgess requested $660,000 to reclassify 20 staffers as deputy assessors.
But when Harris rolled out his budget proposal, Burgess said his office was only slated for $25,000.
“I’ve only been given just the resources to strictly look at the residential side which I think it needs to be square across the board,” said Burgess.
He said the additional assessors would be responsible for reviewing commercial and personal property.
“We have some PILOTs that are fixing to expire, so once we put those back on the roll, this would free people up to strictly look at our PILOTs and look at where we’ve abated taxes,” he said.
Burgess said this may generate $7 million in new tax revenue.
FOX13 went through Harris’ budget proposal line-by-line and this additional revenue would cover Harris’ proposal to fund Pre-K, which is $6 million.
The Tennessee Comptroller’s office sent FOX13 this statement about the number of deputy assessors in Shelby County:
“Many counties do a great job with less staff than suggested. There is no state requirement that an Assessor hire any staff. The Comptroller’s Office is mainly focused on making sure an Assessor fulfills his or her statutory obligations and responsibilities. We would get involved (up to and including sending in staff) if a County Assessor's office was found to have performance issues without regard to number of staff employed. There is not a fine associated with insufficient personnel; however, if the Comptroller's Office had to send in staff to accomplish the job, we could bill a local county for our time.”
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