The man challenging incumbent Wilson County Assessor of Property Stephen Goodall in the Republican primary says local taxing entities are missing out on revenue because of problems in the office.
Charles Leeman, who spent 34 years working for the state Division of Property Assessments, said, “A lot of additions are being done that are not part of the tax rolls.”
Goodall did not return multiple phone calls for comment on the race. He did email the Democrat an announcement that included this statement: “Our office works hard to stay on top of changes and new development, for both residential and commercial.”
The assessor of property determines the value of most property in a county, both residential and commercial. That assessment is what property taxes are based on. The county and Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown all collect property taxes.
“There are some things I feel like need to be straightened out in the assessor’s office,” Leeman said. “A lot is missed, I know that from the work I’ve done with the state.”
Leeman, 65, said there are also issues with exempt properties.
“There are probably thousands of little bitty lots in subdivisions that are not on the tax rolls because of water issues (flooding or percolation),” he said. “What bothers me is the assessor’s office doesn’t have the authority to exempt them.”
Leeman, who is now working as a realtor and is a Wilson County native, said, “I have experience and knowledge and I can step into the office and know what to do. Mr. Goodall is still learning.
Goodall was elected to his first term as assessor four years ago, and the 40-year-old said in his statement that training is a priority.
“Since being elected, he has worked to increase knowledge in all areas of the office. Stephen along with 9 staff members, have attended seminars, classes, and multiple training sessions,” the statement reads. “He strives for the office to promote professionalism and superior customer service, and is prideful of every employee that is currently on staff.”
Also a county native, Goodall was a sergeant with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office before being elected assessor. There, he supervised 12 school resource officers.
Goodall said he is a good steward of the county’s money.
“I believe in watching the taxpayers money closely, and each year I have been in office, I have stayed within my budget and returned money back to the general fund,” he said in his statement.
Both Leeman and Goodall are married, and Leeman has one adult son and Goodall has two school-age children. Leeman is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and studied public administration at Tennessee State University. Goodall is a graduate of the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.
The winner of the March 3 primary will be unopposed in the August general election.