King William officials withheld tax reassessment info, emails show. Now the county administrator is stepping down.

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Em Holter, The Daily Press
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King William County Administrator Bobbie Tassinari abruptly resigned Sunday after a county supervisor and the former Commissioner of the Revenue withheld information pertaining to the county’s tax reassessment, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

On Friday, fourth district Supervisor Stewart Garber forwarded a Nov. 4 email correspondence he had with former Commissioner of the Revenue Sally Pearson to several key county figures, including the Board of Supervisors and county administrator, discussing errors within the assessment.

In September, a position in Pearson’s office was defunded after refusing to participate in the reassessment process, a duty assigned to her office. While the county contracted out the assessment to BrightMinds, a Roanoke-based, state-accredited reassessment firm, Pearson and her staff were required to verify the data submitted by the company but did not. Pearson announced her resignation in November, but worked through January, when a special election was held to fill her seat.

Tassinari stated in her resignation email that it was irresponsible for the board to withhold information from her and her staff and as a result, had wasted her staff’s time and the situation could have been resolved sooner.

“I have supported BrightMinds through this entire process as have my staff because I felt they were technically sound; until the time of the appeals process many of the glaring issues with errors and omissions did not come forward,” Tassinari said in the email. “When they occurred, I and my staff worked diligently to correct and address the matter.”

The 2021 reassessment process, which was released in October, sparked controversy when BrightMinds returned its findings which found several properties reporting 100% increase in fair market value. Since then, the county has begun its Board of Equalization process to determine if the assessments are accurate and fair.

But hundreds of residents have come together demanding the county overturn the reassessment, which the board is considering. Additionally, BrightMinds co-owner Steven Chastang, who was hired as the county tax assessor, has since resigned from the county job. As of now, it is unclear as to whether the county will fill the position or if the duties will go back to the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office.

According to her email correspondence, Tassinari stated she will no longer serve a Board of Supervisors that withholds information from her and is resigning from her position.

“I am at a loss for words that back-channel communications were going on such as these and no one felt compelled to share with me rather instead to wait for the ‘gotcha,’” Tassinari stated. “I resign immediately.”

Tassinari took over the position in 2018. Before then, she served as the county’s finance director for two years. The county’s Director of Operations Steve Hudgins will serve as the county administrator until further notice.

“I am excited to serve the county anyway I can,” Hudgins said.

Tassinari’s resignation marks the fifth high-profile position to leave the county in the last six months, following former Treasurer Harry Whitt, Pearson, fourth district school board member Lindsay Robinson and former interim treasurer Marie Wilson.

Em Holter, emily.holter@virginiamedia.com, 757-256-6657, @EmHolterNews.