UPDATE 5:30 P.M.
The Wakulla County Property Appraiser sent ABC 27 the following message regarding the tax roll error:
"The Wakulla County Property Appraiser apologizes to the Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners, Wakulla County School Superintendent and School Board Members, and all Wakulla Citizens for the error on the 2023 tax roll. This error resulted in a $2.4 million shortfall in the Wakulla County budget and a $1.6 million shortfall in the School System budget.
On Monday morning, October 23, 2023, the Wakulla County Tax Collector, Lisa Craze, sent an email to verify a $307.5 million assessment of a small lot. I immediately knew this was a mistake and began researching what had happened. I determined there was nothing dishonest in this error, it was a “fat-finger” mistake. That afternoon, I alerted county and school officials so they would not be blindsided by an unforeseen budget deficit later in the year. A core principle of this office is integrity and honesty, and this includes accepting full responsibility for any errors.
Many have asked how this mistake happened. Why are there no safeguards to prevent this? Our software runs checks and highlights any excessive increases in values. However, this lot was one of four new lots in a subdivision and our software had no prior values to compare the excessive value against; there was no flag for review. I accept full responsibility for this error and have implemented additional safeguards for future years.
This office will join the County and School Board in finding ways to reduce this year’s budget. As a beginning, I implemented a hiring and pay freeze and will continue to look for additional ways to cut spending."
Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners of Wakulla County announced an Emergency Special Meeting.
In an announcement sent to ABC 27 Tuesday afternoon, the county said the meeting had been called by the chairman of the board of county commissioners.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the real property values certified by the property appraiser and the ad valorem revenue to be collected in FY 2023/2024.
Tuesday afternoon, ABC 27 contacted Wakulla County Property Appraiser, Ed Brimner about the issue. Over the phone, Brimner confirmed that he alerted the county commission to a tax roll error on October 23.
That error assessed a piece of property in the county at more than $307 million in value. After a correction was made, the property in question was found to be worth $7,500.
Brimner confirmed the county is now short $2.4 million for its budget. He also confirmed the school board is short about $1.6 million.
We've reached out to Wakulla County Administrator, David Edwards, to see what's planned to fill the gap. We'll let you know once we learn more details.
The Wakulla County Audit Committee is holding a Special Public Meeting on October 27, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. in the Board of County Commissioners Administration Conference Room to discuss the issue.
Then, the commissioners' Emergency Special Meeting will be held at 2:00 p.m. on October 30, 2023, at the Wakulla County Commission Chambers, 29 Arran Road, Crawfordville, Florida.
All interested parties are invited to attend the special meeting. A complete copy of the agenda will be available in the County Commissioners Administration Office at 3093 Crawfordville Highway, Crawfordville, FL 32327, Phone (850) 926-0919.