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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Over-collecting Taxes In Pickens County ...

Over-collecting of Taxes

1.  The Pickens County School Board has over-collected taxes every year since 1990 by simply adjusting the percent collectible to 95%.  All taxes are either collectible or the property is taken by the county for sale.  There are also delinquent fees compiled every month on the tax amount.  A very close estimate is not 95%, but 103%, which is 8% more than was budgeted.  In the County Council Audit report of 2008, it shows on Page 15 (item II) & Page 115, this conservative budget approach.  It also shows that the County Council benefited more than $5 million dollars in 2008 alone.  Delinquent taxes or sales of properties were not included in these figures.  The Pickens County School Board has continued this practice even after it was pointed out to them.  The County Council made a stab at correction by estimating 99% collectible after our group pointed this out.  Still, the County Council over-collected more than $800 thousand in 2013.  The cities in Pickens County employ the same over-collection method and have not refunded or credited the overage to the taxpayers.  In our opinion, the political entities have conspired to over-collect without following the accepted method of credit or refunding to the taxpayers. ( 12-43-285 Certification of millage rates )

From 1999 - 2008 and in 2013, because of this conspiracy, 9,000 pieces of property have been scheduled for sale over the past 15 years.  Budgets have been padded every year which has allowed larger increases in taxes and fees than normal year over year and $40 to $100 million dollars has been over-collected during this period.

2.  The same general problem exists  with over-collection of taxes due to reassessment.  The reassessment year that Junius Smith audited the books; he found an increase of 13%, which is far more than allowed, yet there was no meeting with the public as prescribed by law to discuss the extra money.  This situation has greatly improved since Brian Suddeth has become Auditor.  Still, there is no meeting with the public when there is an overage. There have been no refunds as prescribed by law. A zero gain has to be realized from reassessment of properties, yet there shows a tremendous increase every reassessment year.  Every political entity shows that they have a slush fund created by this type of activity.

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