Early County School System victim of costly tax mistake

Early County School System victim of costly tax mistake
The Early County School System was informed they were owed money in September of 2017. (Source: WALB)
The Early County School System was informed they were owed money in September of 2017. (Source: WALB)
Blakely, Damascus, Arlington and Jakin, were all overpaid. (Source: WALB)
Blakely, Damascus, Arlington and Jakin, were all overpaid. (Source: WALB)
City of Blakely officials said they are working hard to get the money back to the school system. (Source: WALB)
City of Blakely officials said they are working hard to get the money back to the school system. (Source: WALB)

BLAKELY, GA (WALB) - The Early County School System is a victim of a $600,000 tax mistake, owed to them by the city of Blakely.

It was in September of last year that the Early County Board of Education was informed they had been underpaid for the last three years, and the cities in Early County were being overpaid.

"It was due to the tax commissioners, the former tax commissioners error in pulling amounts for the TAVT which is the title ad valorem taxes." explained Dr. Bronwyn Ragan-Martin.

The previous tax commissioner passed away, when the new tax commissioner was hired, she discovered the mistake.

The money that was supposed to go to the school system actually went to Blakely, Damascus, Arlington and Jakin in the amount of over $650,000.

"Basically, she was pulling from the wrong sheet where it showed how the money was supposed to be dispersed, and the school system was not even on the sheet," said Ragan-Martin.

So the funds they were supposed to receive didn't get there simply because it was from a new funding stream, which made the school system unaware of what it was missing.

"We didn't know. We didn't have anything to base it on. It was a brand new way which is the way the county didn't catch it, the way the cities didn't catch it," said Ragan-Martin.

When county leaders did catch it, they wanted to take their time to investigate.

"Basically, what the county tried to do was make sure this was correct," Ragan-Martin explained.

Two weeks ago the city held a meeting saying it is planning to give the money back.

"The city did write a check to the tax commissioner's office for $140,000.00, so we're hoping that's the beginning of being paid back over a three year period," said Ragan-Martin.

The superintendent went on to say that once the funds are returned, they will use the money to staff more positions, compensate staff and remodel the schools.

The tax commissioner who found the error confirmed the city is working hard to resolve the issue but has no further comments at this time.

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