(MURFREESBORO) This op-ed article was sparked by this question from a local resident dealing with abuse of power and being held accountable.
I am writing to you today to ask what you are doing, as the Rutherford County Assessor of Property, to ensure that your officers are not abusing their power and are held accountable for their actions.
Op-Ed comment from Rutherford County Assessor of Property Rob Mitchell:
We identify the parcel owners, track changes in ownership, process 5000 deed changes a year, create new parcels with parcel splits from existing tracts of land 2500 times a year and accurately map, documents changes in structures on those parcels over time. We track the progress of Industrial Development Board contracts which abate taxes and manage compliance with those contracts to insure equity in the tax base.
We conduct annual hearings to which an aggrieved taxpayer may protest a value placed upon their taxable property and present them an opportunity for relief through appeals to the County Board of Equalization. Property taxes are the bedrock foundation upon which local government relies to provide the necessary services required of a civil society. Our office is charged with treating everyone fairly and equitably.
I have received many of these emails like yours which are almost identical in both form and substance. I appreciate the fact that you are taking this positive and peaceful action in an attempt to influence local government. I did much the same nearly 30 years prior on local issues of flooding, crime and the landfill. I am happy to share my failures and small successes with you. I learned what does work and what does not. ( I learned a LOT about what does NOT work!)
There is a way that government works. From the inside of government I see that more clearly than from the outside. What I do see does not always make me very happy at times. I do believe a good person can make a positive change. Many times that is the only hope I have that sustains me.
My small office, which is tasked with a huge responsibility, is underfunded and largely ignored by both county and city bureaucrats. I have little influence with the appointed departments heads in county government. As an elected official( and there is a vast difference in elected officials and department heads) I am charged by a constitutional oath to conduct my office according to the constitution. I am proud to say our office has been recognized statewide and nationally as a leader in professionalism, transparency and equity.
In property assessment we are first tasked with defining the problem to be solved. If we do not clearly define the problem we are trying to solve then regardless of our efforts our results will be flawed. The question asked of me, " what are you doing to combat police brutality" addressed to the title of my office, "Rutherford County Assessor of Property", begs a question: "What authority does an Assessor of Property have to make policy decisions regarding the operation of a city department?" The answers is, "None".
Personally, I feel sad and outraged that it happened and was "filmed" by someone and no one tried to intervene. No one made a call to 911. No one tried to influence the police at the scene. Why? It is sad when anyone loses their life for any reason. No one likes it. No one tolerates it. No one condones it.
I am sorry for the length of this email. There is so much that should be said and could be said.
Please feel free to share my email with anyone you wish. You have my permission.
Thank you again for reaching out.