I-Team uncovers questionable assessments - WSMV Channel 4

I-Team uncovers questionable assessments

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

The Rutherford County Property Assessor is under fire for what the Channel 4 News I-Team has reported.

Bill Boner has a private attorney to fend off multiple charges of sexual harassment. There are allegations of bullying, favoritism and cheating against Boner.

Tonight, the Channel 4 News I-Team has uncovered questionable assessments.

The I-Team took its findings to the former Rutherford County property assessor, no friend of Boner's, but a man with three decades in office in a variety of roles.

Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess has a beautiful spread out on Franklin Road - 581 acres and a 3,600-square-foot home. How much is it worth? That is a tricky question.

In 2010, the property was worth $969,000. Then came reassessment on April 19 and the property value dropped to $844,000. Then, on the same day, it's back at $1 million. Then 15 days later the entire property is reassessed to $1.1 million. But then on the top, it said it's assessed at $1,041,000 on April 19.

If you're confused, don't feel bad. So is former property assessor John Barbee.

"Dennis, there are things here, the April date above a May date, I don't know how that could happen in the normal sequence the computer keeps a history of all the things that are done," Barbee said.

The I-Team looked at dozens of property histories and none were like this one, no one had an older date at the top of the history.

The I-Team asked to see Boner about the county mayor's unusual statement, but we were told he was in a meeting.

Others in the office could not explain it.

"This says April 19 is the current amount, but it's less than the May amount," Barbee said. "That just doesn't make sense."

Channel 4 News doesn't know what it means, but we do know our investigation aired after the favorable assessment and before the new higher one.

Since when does a county reassess property after just 15 days?

"There's just no reason for it unless you are trying to manipulate the number," Barbee said. "It's unfortunate, but it appears we possibly have a growing corruption problem and the people of Rutherford County deserve better than this. The people who work in that office deserve better than this."

The I-Team also examined property owned by the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

One of three nearly identical 15 acre lots sit side-by-side. But look at the assessments. The 15-acre parcels are appraised at $134,000 and $135,000. The property the mosque site jumps to $213,000.

"They are all right together, next to each other. They're almost exactly the same size," said Barbee after reviewing the plot. "How there could be that much difference in the value for one parcel compared to the others. There's no logical explanation for it."

The mosque told us they are now investigating the situation and are troubled by what it suggests.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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