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Harrison tackles unpaid taxes

November 29, 2012
By MIKE PALMER - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

CADIZ - The Harrison County commissioners are considering allowing county Treasurer Vicki Sefsick to use a collection service to collect taxes that have remained unpaid for extended periods of time.

During Wednesday's meeting, the commissioners heard a presentation by Sefsick that said the proposed system would allow the county to use Tax Ease, a property tax lender, to deal with those whose delinquent tax bills are seriously past due. Sefsick clarified that real property taxes would still be handled in her office.

The biggest advantage to using Tax Ease to collect, according to Sefsick, is that the company has offered to pay 100 percent of the past due tax amount owed to the county assuming that liability. The agreement will also include postage and additional costs incurred by the county and will be approved through the county prosecutor before any action is taken.

The treasurer stated that the past due taxes amount to $2.5 million dollars and that the prosecutor's office has not taken action on delinquent accounts. making this a possible solution for the county to collect that debt.

"We realize that some of the larger delinquent accounts, like the Scio Pottery, will not be able to be included," Sefsick said, adding that because of EPA restrictions, the $400,000 in past due taxes on that parcel would be excluded.

The Tax Ease website states that the collections will in turn offer past due accounts commercial or residential property tax loans to pay off all taxes owed on the property along with penalties, interest and court costs.

Joyce Brown of the county's Department of Job and Family Services offered an update on the Jefferson County Community Action Council's (CAC) progress stating that they will soon have crews clearing debris from the June 29 storms. Commissioners passed a service agreement between the county and the Jefferson County CAC as the first step in releasing the first round of funding from the $600,000 in grant money for the project from disaster funding.

These rapid response funds will allow vehicles to be rented for crews, according to Brown.

"The CAC has hired one coordinator and two supervisors, and the first crew has completed their required safety training," Brown said. "They will begin clearing right-of ways and identifying sites very soon."

Brown reminded that eligible workers must have lost their jobs or homes due to the disaster or qualify as veterans, dislocated workers or long-term unemployed. which is defined as being unemployed or underemployed for 15 of the last 26 weeks.

Workers must also pass a drug test and physical before being sent to safety training.

Recorder Tracy Boyer updated the board on the scanning project, "We have all our documents scanned and are waiting for them to be cataloged in a user-friendly version which will be available through our computers."

"Chesapeake has their copy of the scanning," Boyer added. "However it is just a raw copy."

Boyer also asked commissioners to consider additional space for her office.

"We are currently at $800,000 for our office this year to date, and the usual yearly amount is $125,000 per year. We don't know if we will make the million-dollar mark this year," Boyer said. "We do have additional computers coming but have no electrical capabilities in our office to handle any additional computers. This a record-breaking year for our office."

Boyer said that her office had received an additional $200,000 in donations from companies to keep the office open evenings and Saturdays.

In other business, the board approved road use agreements with Cardinal Gas Services for ingress and egress of two well sites.

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