VALUE ADJUSTMENT BOARD ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING
august 29, 2011
The Lake County Value Adjustment Board (VAB) met in Regular Session for its Organizational Meeting on Monday, August 29, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Present at the meeting were: Commr. Jimmy Conner, Chairman; Commr. Sean Parks; Jim Miller representing the Lake County School Board; and Will Walker and Rick Riker as citizen members. Others present were: Alison Yurko, Counsel for the Value Adjustment Board; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Frank Royce, Chief Deputy, Property Appraiser’s Office; and Courtney Vincent, Deputy Clerk.
call to order
The Chairman called the meeting to order.
introduction of board members, clerk and attorney
Ms. Lehman introduced the new Board members as follows: Sean Parks, County Commissioner; Rick Riker, Lake County School Board appointed citizen member; and Jim Miller, representing the Lake County School Board. She stated that the contact information for each member of the Board was provided in the agenda backup. She introduced Ms. Yurko as the legal counsel for the Board and stated that the contact information for Ms. Yurko as well as the contact information for the Lake County Clerk of Courts, who acted as Clerk to the Board, was also provided in the agenda backup.
RATIFICATION OF SPECIAL MAGISTRATES
Ms. Lehman requested that the Board ratify the outside legal counsel for the Board as well as the Special Magistrates. She noted that a request for proposals had been conducted in August 2010 and that responses had been awarded last year. She requested the contracts be extended for the current year. She mentioned that copies of the contract extensions were included in the agenda backup.
Mr. Miller asked if the Board was satisfied with the performance of the Special Magistrates.
Ms. Lehman answered, “Yes.”
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB agreed to extend the contract of the VAB legal counsel for another year.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB agreed to extend the contracts of the Special Magistrates for another year.
lake county Value adjustment board administrative code
Ms. Yurko reminded the Board that they were subject to Sunshine laws as well as Public Record laws, adding that they were also subject to rules forbidding ex parte communication. She noted that attached to the agenda was a sheet containing the websites for the Florida Administrative Code as well as State resources to review the rules governing the VAB. She also reviewed the petition process of the VAB.
approval of $15 filing fee for petitions
Ms. Yurko asked for approval of the resolution for the $15 filing fee for each Petition.
Mr. Walker asked if the filing fee was the same fee that had existed in the past.
Ms. Lehman replied that it was.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Mr. Riker and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB approved a resolution enforcing a $15 filing fee per petition.
PROPOSED SCHEDULE for the 2011 vab year
Ms. Lehman remarked that approximately 60 petitions had been received so far and the majority of the petitions concerned exemption and classification issues. She stated that hearings for exemption and classification petitions were scheduled for September 29, September 30, and October 3, 2011. She reviewed that the deadline to submit valuation petitions was September 13, 2011, and noted that hearing dates would be scheduled as petitions were received. She commented that they would try to conclude the process by the end of the year.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB approved the Minutes of the final VAB meeting held on February 28, 2011.
Vendor invoice approval
Ms. Lehman informed the Board that during the year invoices had been received from the VAB attorney and the Special Magistrates and, rather than have them wait for payment until the Board met, the invoices were paid during the year. She added that the invoices were reviewed for reasonableness before payment.
The Chairman noted that the payment of invoices had been discussed last year and emphasized that the Clerk was reviewing the invoices before payment.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Mr. Riker and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB approved the payment of invoices submitted by the VAB attorney and the Special Magistrates.
Late filed 2010 exemption petition 2011-48L
The Chairman mentioned that he had reviewed the late filed 2010 petition with the VAB legal counsel. He stated that, after reading the letter submitted by the petitioner, he was inclined to see if there was a way to try to accommodate the request but Ms. Yurko had informed him that there might be some problems with allowing the petition to be heard. He requested that Ms. Yurko give the Board her analysis, evaluation, and recommendation. He added that Mr. Frank Royce, Chief Deputy from the Property Appraiser’s Office, was welcome to comment as well.
Ms. Yurko explained that late filed petitions were usually reviewed by the attorney Special Magistrate, but because petition 2011-48L had been filed over a year late it was determined that it should be presented to the Board for consideration. She informed the Board that F.A.C Ch. 12D-9.015(11) stated that the Board or Special Magistrate could determine a petition could be heard even if it was filed late if there was good cause for the late filing and if the delay would not be harmful to the performance of Board functions in the taxing process. She opined that allowing the petition to be heard would be harmful to the performance of Board functions because the tax roll for 2010 had already been certified.
Mr. Royce explained that the Property Appraiser certifies the tax roll to the Tax Collector in October and then the Tax Collector makes a request to the Board of County Commissioners to extend the tax roll through the process of the VAB hearings. He remarked that the 2010 tax roll had been recertified at the February 28, 2011 VAB meeting and was then sent to all the taxing authorities. He reported that by the beginning of April all of the taxes were paid and the funds distributed to the taxing authorities. He stated that it was six months past the recertification of the 2010 tax roll and the 2011 tax roll would be certified in about a month. He opined that, after discussing the issue with Ms. Yurko, the petition had been received too late to be considered for a hearing because the issue was whether or not accepting the petition for a hearing would be harmful to the tax roll or affect the tax roll. He remarked that it would affect the tax roll and would be harmful to the process. He reported that the Property Appraiser’s Office was in the process of trying to verify with the City of Groveland as to whether or not a Certificate of Occupancy had been issued and if a final inspection of the building had been conducted. He mentioned that it was a new church that had been built and originally the City had said the inspections had been finalized and the building was usable before January 1, 2010, though he was not sure if that was true.
Commr. Conner asked what the ramifications were if that statement was not true.
Mr. Royce replied that if it was not true then he would remove the value of the building from the tax roll and the property would revert to land only, which was what the church paid taxes on for the previous year. He stressed that he could not promise that that would happen, but his staff was working on it, and while those efforts did not pertain to the Value Adjustment Board, if it was determined that the inspections had not been finalized and the building was not usable before January 1, 2010, it would reduce the tax load on the church significantly.
Commr. Conner said he would like for the church to be helped if it was possible.
Mr. Royce stated that his office tried to help the taxpayers as much as they could but they had to have proof before they could do anything.
Mr. Walker asked if the Certificate of Occupancy dictated whether a property was ready to enter the tax roll as an improved property, or if having the final inspection completed was adequate.
Mr. Royce replied that it depended because the County issued the Certificate of Occupancy the same day as the final inspection but some cities did not, and that after the final inspection was completed the owner was allowed to use the building. He explained that it was not just the Property Appraiser’s Office or the Tax Collector’s Office that would were involved; the Department of Revenue was also involved.
Mr. Riker asked if approving the petition for a hearing would set precedence.
Ms. Yurko replied that it would, and that was one of the reasons she recommended that the request for a hearing be denied. She stressed that the reason the petition was unique was because it was filed extremely late and therefore it invoked the section of the rules that dictated a petition could not be harmful to Board functions. She stated that accepting the petition so late would be harmful to Board functions because everything had already been certified. She requested the Board not grant the petition a hearing and that the precedent be established that any other petitions filed a year late should be denied a hearing because of the harm to the process.
Commr. Parks asked if one year was the specific time limit.
Mr. Royce explained that it was not specifically the one year timeframe as much as the timeframe in which the VAB had heard all of the hearings, made their final decisions, and approved the tax roll.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Mr. Riker and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB approved the recommendation of the VAB legal counsel to not grant late filed petition 2011-48L a hearing.
Election of the chairman
Mr. Walker asked when the Board would elect the Chairman.
Ms. Yurko stated that Commr. Conner had previously acted as the Chairman.
On a motion by Mr. Walker, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the VAB appointed Commr. Conner to be the Chairman of the Value Adjustment Board.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the VAB, the meeting was adjourned at 1:22 p.m.
JIMMY CONNER, CHAIRMAn
NEIL KELLY, CLERK