COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- State auditors told former Putnam County Property Assessor Rhonda Chaffin years ago that she was making changes to the county tax rolls that "were not allowable by state statutes."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates questioned Chaffin last month for undervaluing the properties of wealthy landowners in Putnam County.
After our story, the state issued a review of properties that found Chaffin's office undervalued nearly 200 properties by more than $82 million dating back to 2009.
But the Tennessee Comptroller's Office had blasted Chaffin back in 2003 for doing the very same thing.
The scathing audit stated that she had certified more than 900 changes to the 2001 tax rolls including changes to "market values that relied on the assessor's judgment."
It added that those changes were inappropriate because she only has authority to certify changes to the tax rolls that involve "clerical mistakes, involving no judgment of, or discretion by, the assessor."
Chaffin and the Putnam County attorney responded to the 2003 audit by defending the changes. They stated that the changes were needed to clean up the tax rolls.
But the state recommended that Chaffin "only certify changes to the tax rolls that are allowable by state statute."