By Tony Gonzalez|
The News Virginian
A Fort Defiance man charges in a lawsuit that Augusta County and its Board of Equalization did not follow the law while changing property values during appeals hearings in the wake of the 2009 reassessment.
Thomas Cline says in his six-page suit that the board violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act by failing to conduct open meetings and record minutes and votes when raising the value of his 63-acre hilltop property.
A Virginia Coalition for Open Government representative said Monday that the board’s actions might have turned the open meeting presumption “on its head.”
Informed of the lawsuit, board Secretary Martin Lightsey said it was “definitely possible” that the law wasn’t followed. He said he did not “keep the sort of notes that one would take if you were trying to record minutes of a board meeting.” Meetings, he said, felt more closed than open.
County Real Estate Manager Mary Garris said appeals decision forms sent to homeowners served as minutes. County Attorney Patrick Morgan backed her.
Morgan said he will answer the suit, filed Friday, in a way that “will show there is a difference of opinion as to how those things can be done.”
“It’s been done the way they have been taking minutes … for a very long time,” Morgan said.
Cline’s filing also includes the letter the board sent to him Nov. 9 announcing his hearing for Nov. 18, a violation of state code, which requires hearings to be announced at least 15 days in advance, he said.
Read the full story at NewsVirginian.com.
Labels: lawsuit, The News Virginian
by Tony @
: comments: 0