“You can appeal the decision to increase your property taxes on July 22, 2003,” the letter stated. “However, to do so you must vote for Jay Neal in the state House special election.” The letter was paid for by The Committee to Elect Jay Neal.
“I had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the information that was in that letter, and certainly I did not cooperate in presenting it,” Walker Tax Commissioner Carolyn Walker said during Commissioner Bebe Heiskell’s regular weekly meeting Thursday. “Politics is rough sometimes, but I felt like that was a really low tactic because it really upset people.”
Walker said the letter was mailed in an envelope resembling those used by her office.
Heiskell said she has not set the county budget, which is necessary before deciding whether an increase or decrease will be needed to fund county government.
“People really just did not understand it,” she said. “On top of that (letter), I was sending delinquent (tax) letters last week, and it has not been pleasant.
“I’ve had to deal with a lot of upset people over this,” she said. “That’s sad. I’ve had ladies call me crying, gentlemen call me cussing.”
Republican challenger Neal lost to incumbent state Rep. Mike Snow, D-Chickamauga during the Tuesday election.
Walker said her office has been fielding phone calls and visitors concerned about the letter.
Neal, contacted Thursday afternoon, said, “The last thing we wanted to do was cause trouble for the commissioner or the tax commissioner’s office.
“My opponent went negative with an attack piece claiming that I was misleading the voters and we did not want to respond by joining in with a negative campaign. We felt like the best way to get the truth out to the voters was to send them documentation in a format that they would most likely read.
“We knew that the way that envelope was put together people would probably read it, but we also felt with the content of the letter that it would be clear once they read it that it was a political piece,” he said