Charles Prier
Writer - Insomniac - General, Know-it-All

 

Gillam Talk - Exaggeration and Fabrication

A Commentary by Larry Fisher

 

 

Several people in District 2 have asked me, as chairman of the White County Quorum Court Budget and Finance Committee, to respond to a statement made by Dennis Gillam at his Oct. 10 event at the fairgrounds. He had advertised this event as one to attend “If You Oppose a County-Wide Income Tax …” At that meeting he was reported in one area newspaper as saying “a secret committee has already approved a 20 percent tax on anything having to do with oil and gas and will become effective in Jan. of 2009.”

What he appears to have done is distort a state mandated law that requires counties to assess oil and gas royalties as well as oil and gas real property in the county on Jan. 1 each year. As most people know, real property is assessed at 20 percent of its actual or appraised value. The millage applied is that millage in effect for the location of the property where the royalties are generated and/or the location of the real property of the gas and oil companies. This tax has been law for years and is administered through the State Assessment Coordination Department. The White County Assessor’s Office has been following this law since the oil and gas business has come to our county. There is nothing new for 2009.

          The taxes raised by law are distributed in the county with about 88 percent going to the schools and the rest to the cities and county. If a county resident receives an assessment amount he/she wishes to challenge, there is a well defined process to follow. That person will first appeal to the county tax assessor’s office where an informal hearing is given. If the person is not satisfied at that level, then an appeal can be made to the County Equalization Board, which will schedule a hearing. If still not satisfied, an appeal can be made to the County Court, which is the county judge. If still not resolved to the person’s satisfaction, the next step is to take it to the Circuit Court, and then on up through the state court system. None of these meetings are “secret.”

          What concerns me most about Mr. Gillam is his seeming lack of understanding of the limits of what elected officials can and cannot do, and his constant references to so-called conspiracies and “secret deals.” There are no “secret committees” with the power to tax people. There is no county-wide income tax nor is one contemplated. At any rate, all taxes are ultimately approved by a majority of the people either directly or through their elected representatives.

Larry Fisher