MCCRACKEN COUNTY — Kentucky state Rep. Randy Bridges is on a new list of properties that were omitted from assessments by the McCracken County Property Valuation Administrator's Office.
The McCracken County PVA Office is currently making its way through the county's districts to find properties that have never been taxed. The omitted properties are houses or additions to land that were never reported or discovered by the PVA office while Nancy Bock was administrator.
The McCracken County Fiscal Court came to a final agreement during Monday's meeting that the county must collect back taxes on omitted properties.
In a open letter published before the meeting, Judge Executive Craig Clymer said "law mandates action" and "fairness mandates action."
Bridges said he approached current PVA Bill Dunn to re-check his property after learning the news that millions of dollars' worth of properties were improperly assessed or never assessed at all under the previous PVA.
Dunn said he did re-check Bridges' property, and found a condo in Reidland valued at $161,400 that was not taxed.
Bridges claims he approached Bock about checking his property multiple times, but she never did.
"It's clearly an oversight, and I'll take care of it as soon as I can get back to Paducah," Bridges said in a phone call.
McCracken County Circuit Judge Tony Kitchen also claimed he contacted Bock. He is on the list for a home valued at $368,640. In a statement, he said: "I informed the office of the PVA that I was building a house on my farm. I have always paid my tax bills, and I will pay any additional taxes the government informs me that I owe."
He did not say exactly when he told Bock or how he did not notice he was not paying the correct amount in property taxes.
Dunn said he has heard from other taxpayers that the previous PVA did not put property on the tax rolls despite calls from residents. Dunn said there is no way to verify that.
"To this day, even with all the construction that is going on, no one comes down to the PVA office and says 'Hey, I just built a structure,'" Dunn said.
Clymer used Kitchen's property as an example in his letter, writing: "There are examples of property owners clearly, intentionally, failing to report their omitted property. $300,000 homes built years ago on land valued at under $10,000 and never reported, still assessed as $10,000."
Bridges said the tax bill for property that the PVA office says was not assessed since about 1996 or 1997 went through his escrow, so the bill never went directly to him.
Despite that, everyone with omitted properties must pay a 12% annual interest tax for all their omitted property taxes. That will apply for the previous five years.
In addition, they will pay a 10% penalty fee if they report an omitted property to the PVA office before they find it. If the PVA office finds the property first, they will pay a 20% penalty fee on the omitted property.
Those fees are on top of the taxes owed from the past five years of omitted taxes.
Clymer said it doesn't matter who the property owner is. "We apply the same statutes, the same rules, the same enforcement," he said.
The McCracken County Fiscal Court and the PVA are defining omitted properties as anything that increases the assessed value of the property by 50% or more.
County Commissioner Bill Bartleman was in office while Bock was the PVA. He gave an apology to taxpayers during the meeting. "I just want to apologize to the citizens that this happened," he said. "I wish there was some way we could make the previous PVA accountable, but she is probably not available, because she is in jail."
Bock was supervised by the Kentucky Department of Revenue — not the McCracken County Fiscal Court.
Anyone with under-assessed property will not get a bill for back taxes. Clymer said in the letter: "The current PVA will be reassessing these as required, updating them, but there is no penalty, fees, or other punitive action considered regarding them."
Clymer had a message for anyone who thinks they have omitted property: "You better come in here and talk to us. Report what you should have reported before. Lets get you assessed. Lets get you on the tax rolls."
Dunn said about 300,000 more properties need to be looked at in the county. So far, 23 people are on the omitted properties list, and the properties are valued between $63,000 and $1.3 million.