Jefferson County office collecting taxes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2000

FAYETTE — Things seemed to be back to business Tuesday at the Jefferson County Tax Collector’s office. After complaints from taxpayers that the office was refusing to collect taxes, new Tax Assessor/Collector Samantha Jackson made changes this week. The office began collecting property taxes Tuesday and has done away with the office’s policy against accepting personal checks.

On Tuesday morning, the office was filled with people paying property taxes and renew car tags. &uot;We’re going to work hard and keep our heads up,&uot; Jackson said.

Jackson replaces outgoing Tax Assessor/Collector Dudley Guice Sr.

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Guice, who said he was in an October accident and had surgery last week, was reportedly out of the office a great deal the last few months of his term.

Although by law county offices are to start collecting taxes Dec. 26, the Jefferson County office appears not to have done so. For the past few weeks, employees have been telling taxpayers they did not have the 1999 tax books so they could not collect.

Guice claims the office took that stand because the books had not received final certification from the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors.

&uot;The board never certified them back to me to collect (taxes),&uot; he said.

For legal reasons, Guice said he could not begin collecting. &uot;I’m liable for every penny that I’ve collected,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;And me outgoing — I would not have that hanging over my head.&uot;

But supervisors Trent Hudson and Lenon Rankin believe the tax rolls are ready.

&uot;The board of supervisors did their part,&uot; Rankin said.

Guice ended his tenure last week, and Jackson was sworn in Friday. Jackson said she has noticed many problems since taking over the office. She found the 1999 tax books piled up on the floor in a back office in the tax assessors/collectors wing.

Guice said he could not respond as to why his employees said the rolls were not there. &uot;They’ve been in the tax office all along,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ve never left the office.&uot;

But Jackson has been unable to locate other office documents. She said some files appeared to have been deleted from the records, and the maintenance records from the appraiser are also missing.

A computerized back-up tape appears to have been tampered with, and tax receipts for 1993-1999 have also been deleted, she said. The office has regenerated some of the data and is working to get everything in order. &uot;I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and long hours,&uot; Jackson said.

Guice said he had no knowledge of the missing records until it was mentioned to him this week. &uot;I know when I left there wasn’t anything missing there,&uot; he said.