At their February 28 meeting, the Clay County Board of Supervisors discussed storm sirens and generators, back taxes on the Henry Harris building, considered delinquent garbage bills and heard a report on ad valorem tax collections.
County Emergency Coordinator Johnny Littlefield told the board that they need to move forward on purchasing storm sirens and an emergency generator for which they have been awarded grant funding.
“I talked to you several weeks ago about getting approval for seven sirens,” Littlefield said. “The next step would be to advertise for bids. The money comes to $141,000 and change, and the county’s part is 5 percent. That’s not very much money. That’s a racehorse deal. We also got money for a generator for the courthouse, which is part of the disaster plan we’ve been working on for the past several years. We’ve got a big generator for the water treatment plant, and also for the sheriff’s department. Now we can put one here at the courthouse that is big enough to operate the whole deal if you lose power. That generator will cost between $50,000 and $60,000. Worst case is your part will be $3,000.”
The grant will also fund a portable generator for the sheriff’s department’s mobile command post.
The board approved advertising for bids 4-0. District 5 Supervisor Floyd McKee was out sick. Bids will be opened March 28.
Chancery Clerk Amy Berry asked the board to strike back taxes on the Henry Harris building, formerly the home of the Daily Times Leader.
“We purchased the building on February 19, 2010,” she said. “At that time taxes were due before it sold. There are no 2011 taxes or 2012 taxes because the county had it. We just need to strike those 2010 taxes.”
“I’m not sure we can do that,” said County Attorney Bob Marshall. “The assessment is fixed as of January 1. Even though we purchased it in February, I’m not sure we can strike those taxes. Let me check that for you. If we had bought it December 30 of 2009, we would owe no taxes for 2010. But the taxes are fixed as of January 1.”
Tax Assessor Paige Lamkin was also skeptical.
“Whenever Sally Kate Winters bought property, they are a non-profit but they still had to pay taxes for the year they bought it,” she said.
The issue was tabled.
Lamkin asked for permission to take some Clay County residents to court over delinquent garbage fees.
“We’ve run into a couple of garbage issues,” she said. “I was asked to look at the older accounts and possibly suing some of them. One of them we’re looking at is over $2,000 and it’s still active. I’m not sure how this came about. There is no car tag associated with the account – [the resident] who lives there has no vehicle. We put a flag on the vehicle so [the resident] couldn’t tag it, but he has since sold the vehicle so we had to remove it. The approval to sue has to come via board order.”
“Is there a vehicle there that’s registered in another county?” asked District 3 Supervisor RB Davis.
“There is a vehicle there, but it is registered to the person’s son,” Lamkin said. “And that vehicle is tagged within the city limits.”
“Normally we notify the person in writing that they owe and they come to Justice Court and have a hearing,” Berry said. “They can be taken to court to garnishee. If there’s nothing there to garnishee, we put a lien against the property owner.”
“I was told that we needed something from the board to proceed with this,” Lamkin said.
The board tabled the issue until the first week of March to get more information.
Berry reported on ad valorem collections to date.
“We advertised we were going to collect $5 million, and to date we’ve collected $3.5 million which is about 71 percent of our ad valorem dollars,” Berry said. “There is a lot of money collected February 1, but we won’t get it until March. As of February 28, the general fund has $1.8 million. This time last year we have $1.5 million. The increase in cash is due to our increase in millage.
“There are departments that are over their budget, but the election line item is running close,” Berry said. “We budgeted $73,000, and year to date they’ve spent $65,600. They are at 89 percent, and you’ve got an election in March coming up.”
Berry estimated that about $12,000 was spent on the special election to fill Bennie Turner’s seat. However, the upcoming election to replace David Gibbs will not encompass all of Clay County and so will be somewhat cheaper, she said.