Randolph gets big increase in property tax - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Randolph gets big increase in property tax

Randolph County property owners are about to see a big increase in their property tax bills.

The county owes more than $2 million.

To pay off that debt, commissioners today raised the county millage rate by 28%.

Once you figure in the other taxes property owners, such as to the school board, their bill won't go up that much, but it sill will increase by 10.41%.

Randolph County Attorney Tommy Coleman says this debt obviously did not happen over night, it had accumulated over the last decade.

But some Randolph property owners say this is not their debt to pay.

Taxpayer Elijah Hodge says it is not fair that mismanagement of the county should fall on the shoulders of people like him.

"Steve Jackson, Jimmy Bradley, and Evan Simmons, they are responsible for what is going on in this county and they all need to be in the new jail that they are going to build," says Elijah Hodge, Randolph Property Owner.

Hodge, along with other concerned residents, are petitioning for a recall of some of the commissioners.

"If he can't handle the county's business, then he needs to go," says Bobby Milner, Randolph Property Owner.

Milner says Commissioner Evan Simmons is responsible for some of the debt.

"One of the commissioners do not even own property in Randolph county, he was the ex chairman of the commission that caused a lot of this problem," says Milner.

Randolph County Attorney Tommy Coleman, says the 10.41 percent tax increase is the only practical and immediate solution.

"They need the money now, the IRS is right there not, this instant and the bank is saying we want our money by December 31st and we are not going to give you anymore money unless you pay that, they need to get out of this cycle of debt," says Tommy Coleman, Randolph County Attorney.

Coleman says the County owes the IRS $700,000 and owes the bank $1.5 million.

"This did not occur over night and I think you can argue that there was mismanagement or it should have been taken care of, or politics, or whatever you want to say about it, but the fact of the matter is that whatever the cause it is here now and they have got to deal with it and they are trying to deal with it," says Coleman.

Bertha Murphy, the only commissioner who voted against the tax increase, thinks it is time for the Federal Government to step in and give them some solid structure.

"Randolph County is one of the poorest counties in the state of Georgia, so what is going to happen for those persons who are unable to pay their taxes, the house will be auctioned off on the courthouse steps," says Bertha Murphy, Randolph County Commissioner/ District 3.

Her biggest fear is living in a community where resources are limited, leading to more people losing their homes.

County Attorney Coleman says the County would be bankrupt if Counties were allowed to declare bankruptcy.

The county owes the IRS $700,000 at a 14% interest.

They also owe the bank $1.5 million at a 6% interest.

The tax hike will take effect December 20th.

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