The figures that Tax Assessor Denise Robertson provided to county leaders that showed a $13 million dollar loss in total assessed value that she said were “spot on” appear to be incorrect after an outside consultant found that it was about an $11 million dollar mistake.
Bruce Templeton, a former appraiser who assisted during former tax assessor Beverly Ladner’s tenure, was asked by the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors to check Robertson’s figures. His findings showed a total assessed value of $233,407,298.
Robertson’s previous report showed a total assessed value of $222,608,883.
The $10,798,415 million dollar difference came as a relief to county leaders, who were fearful that enormous loss Roberson claimed would have led to a hefty tax increase within Yazoo County.
“The figures Robertson provided would have resulted in a 26-mill tax increase,” said Supervisor Cobie Collins. “That would have killed Yazoo County. With these new accurate figures provided by (Templeton), we will not have to raise taxes. We will be able to successfully operate our budget without having to adjust taxes. Now, we can make it work.”
During the last county board meeting, Robertson provided figures that showed a $13 million dollar loss that she said was a result of the COVID pandemic. Some county leaders questioned the figures, stating that loss in tax revenue is different from loss in assessed value.
Supervisor Lee Moore asked Robertson if she was “confident” in her figures.
“I am spot on with my numbers,” Robertson replied.
However, about ten minutes later within last week’s meeting, a phone call from Steve Lott, an outside appraiser, said he found some “different figures.” A company that Robertson said had closed was actually still in operation, but the business had changed its name. That company accounted for about $1.5 million dollars in an assessed value loss; not the almost $4 million loss that Robertson reported.
County leaders expressed concerned over Robertson’s figures since an error was already found within minutes of her report to the board. Their concern led to requesting Templeton to check over the provided records.
Collins said the board cannot afford mistakes when it comes to determining the county’s millage rate.
“Unfortunately, we will have to pay an extra salary to have a consultant assist with these figures going forward,” Collins said. “But we have to make sure these figures are correct. We use these figures in setting our budget and millage rate, and they have to be accurate.”
Robertson’s error would have also affected the city of Yazoo City in its budget preparation. The figures involving public utilities within the city, also known as Grey Roll, showed a $110,493 error.
Robertson’s figures showed $151,053 in Grey Roll for the city. However, Templeton’s figures actually showed $40,560. The $110,493 error would have accounted for funds the city board would have based their budget on; funds that would have never arrived.
Collins said the county board will request that Templeton continue to assist the tax assessor's office in their figure preparations for the next two years. The tax assessor position is an elected post, with two years remaining in the term.