Lawsuit alleges PVA moved county line

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Resident living on edge of county claims Jefferson PVA overtaxed him

By Glen Jennings

The Jefferson County Property Value Administration (PVA) office overvalued homes near the Oldham-Jefferson County line and ordered the county line moved when they fought back, alleges a lawsuit by an affected resident.

Donald Fulton, who lives on the line separating Oldham and Jefferson counties, sued the PVA in response to what he said were years of inflated property values that increased his tax rates. 

“I bought this property in 2001. I got my first assessment in 2002,” Fulton said. “The property sold without a house for $72,500. Oldham County charged me half of that.”

Fulton also claims PVA threatened to order the county line moved if he appealed his property rate.

“When I called them up, they said, ‘Well our property is worth more,’” he said. “I said, ‘That’s not right, I’m going to appeal that,’ and they said, ‘If you appeal it, we’re going to move the county line over so you’ll be a Jefferson County resident.’”

Oldham County PVA Barbara Winters said in a June interview that the Oldham County PVA had not received any notification that Jefferson County had moved or intended to move the line.

Although the Jefferson County PVA declined to comment on ongoing litigation, documents acquired from the organization via an Oldham Era open records request confirm that the county line has been moved. 

A memorandum from Aug. 11, 2016 directly references an “acreage change” that the Jefferson County PVA did not discuss with the Oldham County PVA. 

Current Jefferson County Geographical Information Services maps also show the county line approximately 150 feet northeast of the location of the line as seen in documents from 1989 and 1991.

Another memorandum from a day earlier contends that the county line was moved due to more accurate measurements from updated land surveys. Winters confirmed new surveys can provide greater clarity for landmarks.

“The surveyor on the ground in 1950 is certainly a lot different than the surveying we do now,” she said. “A lot of old calls would talk about the river’s edge or a tree or a fencepost.”

However, Winters said a PVA cannot change the location of the county line on its own authority.

“It’s my understanding that you have to go through the court system,” she said. “You’re looking at having everything surveyed.”

Fulton said he had quietly paid an inflated tax rate for some time before he took legal action because he valued his Oldham County residency too much to risk it. The retired attorney said he was motivated by actions he claimed the PVA took against his neighbors. 

“They didn’t touch me, but they went after my neighbors to the left and right of me, who are new here and who are young families that did not have the financial resources to take on an organization such as them,” he said. “It’s a fool’s errand to go after the Jefferson County PVA and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, but I decided I was that fool.”

Fulton said his efforts led to exonerations that refunded taxes to several area residents. Documents acquired from the PVA confirm that taxes for at least one adjacent property were refunded. 

Winters said that the issue could also impact many more than Fulton and his neighbors.

“This is not going to be an Oldham-Jefferson County issue,” she said. “This is going to be a 120 counties in Kentucky issue. Everything is going to have shift to where it should have been.”

The Oldham-Jefferson county line alone has 93 homes that could be impacted by the lawsuit.