Jefferson County tax office being investigated
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2000
FAYETTE — Complaints surrounding the Jefferson County tax office will be scrutinized by state officials in upcoming weeks.
&uot;We’re going to send an investigator down today,&uot;&160;state Auditor’s Office spokesman Pete Smith said Wednesday morning.
In recent weeks, taxpayers said the Jefferson County tax office was not collecting 1999 property taxes and would not tell taxpayers how much they owed.
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State tax officials could not say what specific violations they might be investigating in the office. Tax collection began Tuesday after Samantha Jackson, the county’s newly elected tax assessor/collector, took office.
&uot;(The taxpayers) are telling us how happy they all are,&uot; she said.
Jackson said she is glad the state is investigating the office. Since taking office, she said she has been unable to locate some office documents. &uot;We would like to know what happened to the files,&uot; she said.
The State Auditor’s office is working with the Attorney General’s Office and the State Tax Commission on the matter. &uot;(We’re) just trying to find out why, for a long time, taxes were not collected,&uot; Smith said.
The office is not looking into embezzlement or fraud, Smith added.
Although state law requires counties to begin collecting by Dec. 26, outgoing Tax Assessor/Collector Dudley Guice Sr. said the tax rolls had not received final certification by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors.
Therefore, Guice said he could not legally begin collecting.
The state issued its approval on the recapitulation, or final version, of the county’s land rolls Dec. 29, said Robert Megginson, director of property tax for the State Tax Commission.
&uot;Once they get the re-cap approved by us, they generally start collecting taxes,&uot; Megginson said.
That is essentially the last step in the process and Guice could have begun collecting taxes, he added.
&uot;It’s pretty much finalized when the re-cap’s approved by the state,&uot;&160;Megginson said.
Jackson agreed the 1999 tax rolls were ready and said the books contain the state documentation. The office is working hard to get things back on track despite the missing items, she said.
Items missing from the tax office include computer files and the maintenance records from the appraiser, according to Jackson. A computerized backup copy appears to have been tampered with, and tax receipts from 1993-1999 have been deleted, she said.
Jackson, who is a former clerk in the tax office, said the data was in the office when she left in February. She also believes it was there in July when the board of supervisors first approved the tax rolls.
Supervisors discussed the concerns during Tuesday’s regular meeting, said County Administrator Freddie Oliver, but did not take any action.