No good news for Jefferson County taxpayers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

FAYETTE — State officials don’t have much good news for Jefferson County property owners unable to pay their taxes this week.

Even though state law requires county tax offices to start collecting Dec. 26, the administration in Jefferson County appears to be bucking the system.

&uot;It’s just an awkward situation, and we don’t have an answer right now,&uot; said Jonathan Compretta, spokesman for the Attorney General’s office.

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Dudley Guice Sr., the outgoing Jefferson County tax assessor/collector, has reportedly been out of the office a great deal since losing this year’s election to Samantha Jackson.

David Gardner, a Natchez resident who owns land in Jefferson County, is one property owner upset with Guice about the problem. &uot;He is costing me money because you can claim (the tax owed) on your income tax,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;He’s not affording me the opportunity to do that.&uot;

Since Dec. 26 and 27 were holidays, tax offices were to start collecting Tuesday, Dec. 28. State Auditor Phil Bryant and Gardner both sent Guice copies of the law.

Gardner also went to the office Thursday to try again to pay his taxes. He also wanted office staff to remind Guice of the law. &uot;Their comment was, ‘He doesn’t care,’&uot; Gardner said.

Staff at the office say they cannot collect taxes because the new tax rolls are not in the office.

&uot;It’s just a shame that a public official is going to leave office with this kind of cloud hanging over his tenure,&uot; Compretta said.

Since Guice’s term of office is technically over, it makes the situation more difficult. &uot;Usually what would happen (is) this person would be removed from office,&uot; Compretta said. &uot;In this case he’s not coming back in.&uot;

Jackson will be sworn in today and will begin work next week.

Compretta was not certain Thursday what recourse this leaves people who wanted to pay taxes before the end of 1999.

The attorney general’s office hopes that the situation will improve after Jackson takes office next week, Compretta said.

Gardner said he wishes Guice could be held accountable for his actions.

&uot;He’s not fulfilling the duties of his office as he was sworn in to do,&uot; Gardner said.

Some property owners who know how much they owe have been trying to pay their taxes anyway, Bryant said.