More fireworks at the July 1 reorganization meeting?

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

My longest door-to-door conversation of the ’08 campaign season, hands down, came the day that I knocked on the door at 640 Maple Ave.

The first question that I got that day from Lewis Price – “Who does the city assessor work for?”

I did better this second time that Price asked me that question. The first time, the day of the Feb. 12 primary, when I worked the polls at the library to get signatures for my ballot petition, I fumbled my way around the right answer, that the assessor is hired directly by city council, and answers to the council.

“I’m not going to vote for somebody who doesn’t know the answer to that question any better than you do,” Price said to me back in February.

The second time was the charm. I passed that part of the test with flying colors. But all that did was win me access to an hour-long diatribe on how the current city assessor, John Kiger, basically doesn’t know his backside from his elbow, at least in Price’s view.

I learned that Price’s perspective on this is based on his experiences as a multiparcel property owner who feels that his parcels have been seriously overvalued relative to those of the parcels located adjacent to his directly and also in comparison with properties in other parts of the city.

Price went into great detail about different methods of property valuation, and how they could be applied in his situation to reduce his tax burden. He also raised some questions about Kiger’s character that I felt were way, way over the line, but remember, I was standing on his doorstep asking for his vote and his thoughts on the issues of the day, so I wasn’t in a position to be personally critical.

Price made it abundantly clear to me that he expected me to promise to him that day that I would not vote to reappoint Kiger to his position when the time came for me to do so before I could then ask him for his vote on Election Day. What I promised, and this might sound familiar to those of you who are regular readers of this column, is that I would pay close attention to the activities of the assessor’s office during my first year on city council, and come to my own conclusions in time for my second vote on Kiger’s status on July 1, 2009.

I bring this up because when I checked the campaign-finance reports filed by candidates for city council yesterday, Price’s name came up twice – giving $150 each to ultraconservatives Bruce Allen and Frank Lucente.

Kiger’s reappointment is among the items on the agenda for city council’s reorganization meeting in two weeks. But you probably had that figured out by now.

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