At the County Commission meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 14, Property Appraiser Leigh Barfield stood and addressed the commission about the Nestle lawsuit which was settled in 2007. As a result of the lawsuit, a $44 million value was placed on the property. According to Barfield, ever since the settlement in 2007, there has been a decrease of just over $2 million due to natural depreciation. However, in 2014, Nestle filed a petition to the Value Adjustment Board and brought in a tax rep who proposed a value of $22.5 million on the Nestle property. This adjustment means the county will only take in around $225,000 in tax dollars.
Barfield iterated that she, and the attorneys who handled the previous lawsuit, feel that Nestle’s appraisal is inadequate and the county could present a stronger case by obtaining their own appraisal. The County Commission was reminded that the loss of $194,000 wouldn’t just happen this year, but would repeat every year; thus, in five years, there would be a loss of nearly $1 million from the general fund. After some discussion, the County Commission voted to go through with Barfield’s proposal and carry out the lawsuit — it was decided that, without the lawsuit, the county would lose far too much money.
The County Commission planned to meet with the Madison County School Board to see if they might agree to join together and split costs, as they joined similarly in the previous Nestle lawsuit. On Tuesday, Jan. 20, Property Appraiser Leigh Barfield addressed the School Board and expressed the concerns with Nestle’s recent value adjustment. The School Board voted unanimously to join the county in the lawsuit. It is not certain how long the lawsuit process will take. However, Property Appraiser Leigh Barfield, the Madison County Commission and the Madison County School Board all agree that Madison’s case is strong.