By Magali Lapu
Vinson Fellow explores Georgia’s tax assessor training curriculum
It was such a pleasure to work with Associate Director Stacy Jones as a Vinson Fellow this semester.
When she first told me about Georgia tax assessors training, it was the first time I had even heard about it. But my exploration with Stacy as my faculty mentor uncovered many issues that inadequacy in training these important members of our local communities can have on the effectiveness of their work assigning value to property. The revenue from property tax is equal to $11.2 billion and is the primary source of revenue for Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue 2017 report.
In seeing how important tax assessors’ responsibility is in ensuring taxpayers are contributing their fair share based on accurately assigned property values, I looked at the issues with their training conferences run by the Georgia Department of Revenue. I investigated the Current Ad Valorem Edicts and Trends Conference (CAVEAT), which has been running for almost 30 years.
After sifting through about nine years of available qualitative and quantitative survey data, I compiled what I found to be some of the biggest concerns tax assessors and appraisers have with CAVEAT. In addition, I interviewed the vice president of the Georgia Association of Assessing Officials and a chief appraiser in Lowndes County who had been to almost all the CAVEAT training sessions. Some of the issues for assessors included a disconnect with the content taught and the realities of the job, ineffective models of teaching and limited collaboration with other stakeholders.
My next step is crafting the best possible recommendation to alleviate these issues. I am hoping it will be in the Department of Revenue’s hands in 2019, with continued help from Stacy. I am so thankful for the opportunity the Vinson Fellows Program has given me to explore a new and interesting topic as well as interact with incredible people across the state of Georgia!
Magali is a fourth-year honors student from Atlanta majoring in international affairs and French, with a minor in public policy. She is a 2018 LEAD Diversity Fellow, a 2018 Humanity in Action Fellow, a 2016-17 PSO Student Scholar and a 2016 Roosevelt Policy Scholar. She is director of diversity and inclusion with the UGA Student Government Association, served three years with the UGA Black Affairs Council, is the former political action chair of the UGA chapter of the NAACP and is a member of the UGA chapter of the youth leadership organization AIESEC.