An issue with the United States Postal Service not sending out tax payments on time and creating penalties and interest was raised for a second week in a row at the St. Francis County Commission meeting.
County officials are receiving complaints from ratepayers who sent in their property tax payments on Friday, Dec. 31, and the post office did not stamp them until Monday, Jan. 3. The postmark is considered late and penalties and interest are applied to these payments.
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher said he made a mistake at last week’s regular meeting on waiving penalties and interest on late tax payments for a landowner.
“My job is to sever ties,” he said. “I broke the tie and went the wrong way. We have a laminated sheet in front of us about what we agree to waive penalties and interest and I have the two rules written there. That must be the county fault and taxes must be paid in full.I went against this and was wrong.
“If we don’t have a set rule then where do you stop breaking the rule? This one was a mistake by the post office and I felt sorry for the person and voted that way. In my mind, I’ll still vote to stick to those two rules. I’m sorry for that mistake.
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A local resident applied to the commission to have her tax penalties and interest waived.
“I have a GPS on my phone where I filed personal property taxes for me and my daughter at 7:40 a.m. on December 31,” she said. “It was the postmark of January 3. That’s $275 more that I’m being charged. I understand it’s not your fault, but it’s not my fault either.
After discussion, the commission voted 2-1 against the measure, with Buckley voting to waive penalties and interest. Auditor Louie Seiberlich said the commission should contact the post office about the problems caused.
In other business, the commission approved Adkins Election Services’ sole-source bid for $19,100 to print ballots for the April election.
The county clerk’s office has opened a bid to create a policy manual for the county from Lexipol. The commission will review the offer and take action next week.
Maintenance Supervisor Brian Briley approached the commission to approve the purchase of new flooring for all buildings in the county.
Briley provided a state contract offer for $38,688. He said two local suppliers he contacted for the same flooring were more expensive. The offer is for flooring, glue and skirting, with the maintenance service installing the flooring. The commission approved the offer.
Associate Commissioner Kary Buckley has proposed putting a use tax for the county on the April ballot.
“It’s not a new tax,” he said. “If you go and buy locally, you pay this tax. What this usage tax will do, it will allow the state to collect tax on out-of-state Internet sales. For our county to thrive in the future, we really need to put it on a future ballot where people can decide. It could make a difference for our county. Local businesses that already have this tax, this will set a level playing field. »
County Clerk Kevin Engler noted that it was the same issue the city of Farmington put to the November ballot last year and passed. He was asked why the county is holding the April ballot.
“…We share the cost of the problem with all the other entities that have problems with the school districts, the city and other problems,” he said. “If we put it on a separate ballot, I think that says we want to go where the turnout is very low, we want to put it through people when the turnout is very low. I don’t think we wanted to do that.
Sheriff Dan Bullock raised the possibility that property taxes could be reduced if the measure is passed.
Engler replied, “It’s level-based. So if we generate more revenue, we continue to reduce property taxes. If we don’t secure future revenue, your department and other departments, we’re going to have to go to people and ask for a real estate tax when we’ve almost completely eliminated it.
Highways and Bridges Superintendent Clay Copeland added to the discussion. “A wise man once told me that there is a certain segment of the population that does not pay property tax, no personal property tax; they pay no income tax, they pay no registration fees for their vehicle. Everyone pays sales tax.
The county approved the motion to put the use tax on the April ballot.
Prison administrator Jamie Crump approached the commission to approve a request for a $25,000 grant to purchase about 30 new mobile data terminals for county law enforcement vehicles. The county approved the grant application.
The commission approved the creation of the position of Equipment Supervisor II and then approved the promotion of Buck Copeland to this position. The commission also named Nick Jones the county’s official IT director.
Roads Administrator John Gross briefed the Roads and Bridges Annual Administrative Report commission on projects completed in 2021 and projects planned for 2022.
The Assessor’s Office has asked the commission to approve the renewal of a contract with Certified Professional Geologist Bradley D. Ross to assist the Assessor in the assessment of county quarries. The department approved the renewal of the contract.
The next meeting of the St. Francis County Commission will be held on Tuesday on the third floor of the Courthouse Annex in downtown Farmington at 10 a.m.
Mark Marberry is a reporter for Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629 or [email protected]