Hiring Dispute Over

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Lauderdale County's tax assessor, Jimmy Slay, informed board members in November that he wanted to hire an outside firm for $78,000 to do the county's appraisals.

The supervisors initially refused to approve the contract with Slay's choice of Sanders and Associates, but now county administrator Rex Hiatt says, because of the time element, the board had to approve Slay's choice.

"We have to have a land roll before July 1, 2004, and we had to get it resolved and this was what had to be done," Hiatt said. "It was not what the board of supervisors wanted to do. Certainly we'd prefer to do it in-house with local people preparing the tax rolls, but unfortunately Mr. Slay did not give us that opportunity this year, So we're having to contract it out."

A recent meeting between the board's committee, Hiatt, Slay and representatives of the State Tax Commission decided the issue.

"It showed the board that there just was not time to hire people. There's probably a shortage of trained people around the state at this time that are knowledgeable enough to come in and do the work when we need it right after the first of the year," said Hiatt. "So we had no option but to contract it out. They have very good references. They know what they're doing and I know they'll do a good job in Lauderdale County."

Newscenter 11 attempted to contact Slay for his comments but several phone calls to his office were not returned.