Special audit to look at Terrell Co. delinquent tax fund - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special audit to look at Terrell Co. delinquent tax fund

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The tax collection battle between Terrell County's Commissioners and the Sheriff rages on.

Commissioners claim, for a second time, delinquent tax funds are unaccounted for. They ordered a special audit of the delinquent tax account. Commissioners say recently as much as 18-thousand dollars in delinquent taxes for two years on one property weren't turned in to the Tax Commissioner. Commissioners ran this two page ad in the paper that included the names of delinquent tax payers including Sheriff John Bowens. The problem is the Sheriff who keeps the list says it's incorrect and many people, including himself on this list have paid.

Most Terrell County residents know how important the county's taxes are.

"The taxes are used to pay certain things," said Marjorie Crawford.

"If everybody doesn't carry their share of the load, then the ones that are paying their taxes are having to carry even more," said Mike Faust.

Commissioners recently asked for a special audit after learning $18,000 in John William Sammons delinquent taxes were paid, but that money never made it to the Tax Collector's office. Commissioner Van Phillips was out of town but told us over the phone it's not the first time.

"About a year ago we discovered almost 40-thousand dollars missing, our auditors did," said Terrell County Commissioner Van Phillips.

Sheriff John Bowens who's responsible for the delinquent tax collections wouldn't talk on camera but told us the money's been in the bank and the matter's been cleared, but Commissioner say it's a violation of the law.

"The law forbids any elected official to withhold monies for this length of time," said Phillips.

Commissioner ran an ad in the paper earlier this month pushing for delinquent taxpayers to pay up, but Bowens says the list is incorrect many have paid and it's the Tax Commissioners office that needs audited.

"I know most of the commissioners and I think they're giving it their all. I feel they doing what's best for the county," said Betty Heath.

Sheriff John Bowens welcomes the investigation. He says it's just commissioners again pushing him to transfer collection responsibility to the tax collector. @

Sheriff Bowens told me once this audit is complete, he does expect to transfer the tax collection duties to someone else, but won't say who that is.

Tuesday officials indicated there may be more money that wasn't turned in, as much as $30,000.

Sheriff Bowens is still awaiting a decision from the judge on a contempt of court charge for not bringing prisoners to court for their hearings as ordered by Judge Lane.


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