County Hiring Freeze Hinders Board of Assessors

The Chatham County Board of Assessors says it can't get to all the property tax appraisals and other office work with the people it has. County commissioners froze hiring two weeks ago to try to balance the budget. That leaves the board of assessors with five openings.

"In the meantime we're, doing everything we can do, but there's going to be work that just doesn't get done," said chief appraiser Gary Udinsky, who's back to work after a ten-day suspension due to problems with tax notices sent out this June.

"If it says we're supposed to do 27,000 appraisals next year and they don't give us appraisers, we're gonna do 15,000," noted board member Larry Lower. "Who are we going to blame? The county commission."

Udinsky said the current staff is already overworked. "When you require people to work overtime, when you constantly are adding additional burdens to employees, you are going to get more and more errors."

Nothing can be corrected until the county gives the okay to start hiring, but because of the freeze, it may not be that simple. People they have already lined up for post-freeze hires may have found other work. Joe Vestal, chairman of the board of assessors, said, "We can't hire them so they'll go to other counties."

The board of assessors says it's not just the five vacancies which need to be filled. They have also requested six additional appraisers for next year to help solve some of the problems, but whether or not the board can start hiring will be up to the county commissioners.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro