City Council to grill appraiser

Published 5:38 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

Steven Wampler of Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group, which was hired by the city to assess properties for tax purposes, has been invited to the council’s meeting to field questions. An average assessment increase that was the highest in Hampton Roads has drawn the ire of property owners.

At the July 14 council meeting, Mayor Jim Councill expressed concern about the reassessments, particularly after businessman Jim Hart said he discovered that two of the appraisers were not licensed.

A list of questions for Wampler has been prepared and includes inquiries about how appraisers evaluate a piece of property, how Franklin compares with other localities, and what processes are used in determining market values. Council members also will find out if the group’s employees are, indeed, certified, and what kind of training is required to do the job.

In other business, staff members will recommend that the council accept the lowest bid of $75,300 for construction of a 32-by-67-foot Farmers Market Pavilion downtown. The proposed market would be located between the new Visitors Center and Johnson’s Funeral Home and would be built with a $75,000 grant from the Camp Foundations. The Farmers Market currently is located adjacent to the National Guard Armory on Armory Drive.

The covered pavilion, which would also feature local crafts and canned goods, would have back-in parking for vendors and pull-in spaces for customers, with a central aisle for customer viewing of vendor wares.

The council will also hear from Director of Power & Light Dexter Trump, who will make an appeal to remove the hiring freeze to fill the right-of-way maintenance technician position. The department was in the process of accepting applications when the freeze was approved July 14.

According to a letter from Trump to interim City Manager June Fleming, not filling the position basically shuts down FP&L’s Tree Trimming Program, which “helps protect the public, protect property and maintain electric reliability.”

A request from Fleming to authorize filling the vacancy has been included in the agenda packet.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.