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HUTCHINS et al. v. WILLIAMS, Commissioner, etc., et al.
DUCKWORTH,, Chief Justice.
Injunction. Before Judge Vaughn. DeKalb Superior Court. August 14, 1956.
1. Since the writ of error is to review a judgment, under authority of Code (Ann. Supp.) 6-903 (Ga. L. 1946, pp. 726, 735; 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., pp. 279, 280) and Code 55-202, wherein the lower court refused to grant a temporary injunction, which is different from a review of a final judgment under Code (Ann. Supp.) 6-701 (Ga. L. 1890-91, p. 82; 1946, pp. 726, 730; 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., pp. 440, 455), the defendants' (defendants in error) failure to except by direct bill or cross-bill of exceptions to the overruling of the general demurrer to the petition does not establish the law of the case to be that the petition alleges a cause of action, as contended by the plaintiff in error. See Code (Ann. Supp.) 6-905 (Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., pp. 440, 453); Mechanics' & Traders' Bank of Rome v. Harrison, 68 Ga. 463; Hodgkins v. Marshall, 102 Ga. 191 (29 S. E. 174); Thompson v. Thompson, 124 Ga. 874, 875 (53 S. E. 507); Moody v. Cleveland Woolen Mills, 133 Ga. 741, 745 (66 S. E. 908); Williams Realty &c. Co. v. Simmons, 188 Ga. 184, 185 (4) (3 S. E. 2d 580); Gaulding v. Gaulding, 210 Ga. 638, 642 (81 S. E. 2d 830); Cook County v. Thornhill Co., 186 Ga. 835, 836 (199 S. E. 117); Shoal v. Bland, 208 Ga. 709, 710 (69 S. E. 2d 258). And for the same reason the exceptions as to the rulings on the special demurrers are premature and will not be considered. Shoaf v. Bland, 208 Ga. 709 (supra); Ray v. Ray, 208 Ga. 733 (2) (69 S. E. 2d 261); Malcolm v. Webb, 209 Ga. 735 (75 S. E. 2d 801); Roughton v. Thiele Kaolin Co., 211 Ga. 15 (83 S. E. 2d 590). 2. The granting and continuing of injunctions always rest in the sound discretion of the judge, and this power shall be prudently and cautiously exercised, particularly when a whole year's finances of a political subdivision are involved, unless the law and the facts clearly demand such action. See Code 55-108; Wayne v. City of Savannah, 56 Ga. 448; Hawkins v. Intendant, etc., of Jonesboro, 63 Ga. 527; City Council of Augusta v. Pearce, 79 Ga. 98 (4 S. E. 104); Everett v. Tabor, 119 Ga. 128 (46 S. E. 72); McCrory Co. v. Board of Commrs. &c. of Fulton County, 177 Ga. 242, 243 (170 S. E. 18); Kent v. Murphey, 207 Ga. 707, 709 (64 S. E. 2d 49).
3. The mere fact that property had been assessed for taxes at a certain value after arbitration, under Code 92-6912, in a previous tax year, would not prevent the taxing authorities from fixing the valuation different for a succeeding year from that reached by the arbitrators, even though no improvements had been made on the property since the arbitration.
4. The duties placed on the Board of Tax Assessors to require all property in a county to be returned for taxes at a just and fair valuation, and that the valuation as between individual taxpayers be justly and fairly equalized, does not require the members thereof to use any definite system or method, but demands only that the valuations be just and fair, and the failure to use any particular system, method, cadastral survey, book, or other instruments to derive values used in the past would not in any way render void the valuations placed on said property by the assessors. See Code 92-6911, 92- 6913; Hutchins v. Candler, 209 Ga. 415 (2) (73 S. E. 2d 191); Hutchins v. Howard, 211 Ga. 830 (89 S. E. 2d 183).
5. The requirement that the assessors fix the just and fair valuation of a taxpayer's property and make a note thereof and attach it to the return, of any increase or decrease, under Code 92-6911, does not require any fixed system of doing so, such as attaching a separate memorandum. When this change is made by pencil note on the taxpayer s return itself, the law is satisfied.
6. The mere fact that many increases have been made throughout the county does not render the method of valuation null and void as being a scheme to increase revenue and inflate the digest to increase the bonded indebtedness of the county.
7. While one of the assessors fails to act for some reason such as the reduction of his salary, the use of a county automobile taken from him, or for some other reason, this would not render the board illegally constituted when the majority of the board acts.
8. The evidence fails to present any basis in fact for the allegations of the petition of collusion or conspiracy, domination of the assessors by other officials, or an arbitrary or illegal attempt on the part of the officials of DeKalb County to raise valuations on property in the county for the purpose of increasing revenue and inflating the tax digest illegally. Nor is there any evidence shown of violations of Code Chapter 92-69 as amended, which would require such valuations as made by the Board of Tax Assessors to be declared null and void. Hence, the court did not err in refusing to grant an interlocutory injunction and in revoking the temporary restraining order.
Judgment affirmed. All the Justices concur.
Herschel H. Hutchins, as a citizen and taxpayer of DeKalb County, on behalf of himself and other taxpayers similarly situated or who may wish to intervene, brought a petition for injunction against certain named officials of DeKalb County, alleging in substance, that these officials have conspired to inflate the tax digest of the county to a point where the bonded indebtedness of the county may be increased beyond the legal limitation in an arbitrary and illegal manner without authority of law and without any factual basis, by illegally increasing the valuations of property in said county, which is discriminatory, arbitrary, illegal, and in violation of the uniform-taxation provisions of the Constitution of Georgia and of the equal-protection clause of the Federal Constitution. The petition further alleges divers violations of the law which are, in substance: that (1) petitioner's property had a fixed valuation established for tax purposes for the year 1954 by arbitration and the Board of Tax Assessors were, as a matter of law, required to assess it at this same value for 1956, there having been no improvements made since that time; (2) the actions of the assessors were void because changes and reassessments were made on certain classes of property by individual members of the board only, other members taking other classes for consideration, and the board was not legally constituted, due to the forced inactivity of one member whose salary was reduced to the minimum and certain privileges of the office Were taken from him; (3) the taxpayers are not required to make their returns in accordance with law; (4) changes in valuations were not made by the Board of Tax Assessors in accordance with Code 92-6911, and such changes and increases were not based on fair market value, but represent an illegal attempt to raise additional revenue; and (5) the assessors refused to use a scale for the valuation of motor vehicles furnished by the State and cadastral surveys made and used in the past, but substituted other means and methods of fixing values, which resulted in the valuations being arbitrary and fanciful without any actual physical inspection or examination of real or personal property other than a mere casual examination by driving along the streets or roads where said property was located.
A rule nisi issued, temporarily restraining the defendants as prayed pending a hearing. Certain taxpayers were allowed to intervene. General and special demurrers were filed to the petition, and after a hearing the general demurrer was overruled and certain of the special demurrers were sustained with petitioner allowed to amend the petition in a given length of time. Thereafter other rulings were made on additional special demurrers filed after amendment, but no ruling was thereafter made on a renewal of the general demurrer. After an interlocutory hearing, the restraining order issued was revoked and the court refused to grant a temporary injunction. The exception here is to this judgment and also to the sustaining of the special demurrers to the petition.
George P. Dillard, W. Dan Greer, M. H. Blackshear, Jr., contra.
Sam A. Allen, James R. Venable, for plaintiff in error.
ARGUED NOVEMBER 15, 1956 -- DECEMBER 5, 1956.
Saturday May 23 02:27 EDT

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