2017-11-16 / Front Page

Commissioners will allow ‘clean up’ of tax list

By SPARKY NEWSOME
editor and publisher

The Wilkes County Board of Commissioners has granted authority to Wilkes County Tax Commissioner Lisa Dozier the authority to write off a number of uncollectable tax bills, and also the authority to waive certain interest and penalties on tax bills paid late. The actions took the form of resolutions provided for by state law.

A little over $25,000 in delinquent taxes will be written off the book by Dozier as a result of the action in an effort to “clean up” the digest, according to County Attorney Charles LeGette.

“These are bills that she deems absolutely uncollectable,” LeGette said. “They are basically cluttering up her digest and she can’t make them go away. So, it is her request that you [the commissioners] allow her to write them off.”

With no objections or other concerns, the commissioners voted unanimously to grant the request.

In a related matter, Dozier also requested authority to waive interest and penalty charges on tax bills paid late when those taxpayers can prove to her satisfaction that there are good reasons for the delayed payments.

“When a tax bill is not paid on time, interest and penalties start accruing on that account,” LeGette explained. “Once in a while, a taxpayer can come in and prove that it was not their fault that the bill was not paid on time.” For example, he added, a tax bill could be for someone who has passed away and their representative lives out-of-state and didn’t receive the bill in time to pay by the deadline.

“When it’s absolutely clear to the tax commissioner that there was no intent, no neglect, no bad faith, and it’s not fair to the taxpayer to assess interest and penalties, there is good reason to give her the authority to waive the interest and penalty, but not the bill,” Legette further explained.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Later in the meeting Chairman Sam Moore announced the coming ribbon cutting for the new Wilkes Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC). The center is the result of years of work and planning to repurpose the former Pre-Release Center located south of Washington near the Industrial Park. The facility has been reconstructed for its new purpose and will be occupied soon.

“We are really looking forward to the opening of the center. It really looks good and they are wrapping up the work on it,” Moore said. “We have been waiting a long time on this and it has been a long process to get it done. In fact, two of our legislators who helped us with it are no longer legislators.”

The chairman noted that former State Senator Bill Jackson and former State Representative Mickey Channell were very instrumental in seeing that the new RYDC came to be in Wilkes County.

“Sen. Jackson took it on as his personal project. When the Pre-Release Center closed, he ran with it for us to get it re-opened as something,” Moore said. “Rep. Channell ran the financing of it with a bond because he was on the Ways and Means Committee. We really appreciate everything they did. Even though they are no longer our legislators, they had a really big part in it. And of course, Tom McCall was in there helping us too.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony (reported elsewhere in this issue) is now in the past, having been held Tuesday of this week.

“This is going to be something really nice for us,” Moore added. “There are going to be more jobs than we had in the other facility and we really look forward to its opening.”

All of the commissioners – Esper Lee, Ed Geddings, Charles Jackson, Clem Slaton, and Moore – were in attendance for the meeting held last Thursday in the Wilkes County courthouse. Also attending were Carol Jackson, LeGette, Wilkes County EMS Director Blake Thompson, and a handful of visitors.

In other business:

Jackson reported that Local Option Sales Tax received for the month of September 2017 amounted to $56,543.55, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was $86,990.17, and TSPLOST was $79,409.75.

Thompson announced that the annual Christmas Parade of Lights will be held on Saturday, December 9, beginning at 6 p.m.

The parade will run from Tiger Stadium to The Pope Center and Thompson said he is hoping that it will be one of the biggest ever. The committee still needs volunteers and Thompson said he is working to have a number of “big trucks” in the parade as an added attraction.

“We should have a great turnout this year,” he said.

Thompson also reported that “Toys for Tots” applications are now being accepted and any others should be turned in by December 1. Applications are currently available at The Pope Center, the W-W Chamber of Commerce office, Washington City Hall, Tignall City Hall, and the EMS Office. Thomson said that last year’s Toys for Tots effort served 299 kids and 113 families.

The commissioners congratulated Commissioner Esper Lee for completing his training to become a fully certified county commissioner.

Moore reported that resurfacing projects on Broad Road and Big Cedar Road have been completed.

Fran Omar, having read this newspaper’s report last week of discussions concerning the current state of Wills Memorial Hospital and its need for a solution to its financial woes, asked the commissioners about the standing of efforts to address the problem.

“There is a lot of work going on right now,” Geddings said. “We’ve asked state legislators, federal representatives. Nobody knows what to do.”

However, it was noted that there are ongoing meetings at the state level in which leaders are discussing the needs of rural hospitals and their ongoing plight.

The next regular meeting of the commissioners will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 14, in the Wilkes County courthouse with a work session immediately prior in the chairman’s office beginning at 1 p.m.

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