Tax collections for county, city are down for year
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Morgan County Commissioners expressed concern last week that annual tax collections are currently low, relative to this point in the tax cycle last year.
Through April of 2007, 98.7 percent of taxes due had been collected by the county. Through April of 2008, only 93.91 percent of tax monies due have been collected.
“If we’re not collecting five percent, that’s a lot of money,” said Mack Bohlen, chairman of the county commissioners, at their monthly meeting last Thursday.
“That’s a chunk of change,” agreed county manager Michael Lamar.
Five percent of the $11 million tax digest is equal, in fact, to about $550,000.
Madison city council members also acknowledged at a recent meeting that collections were low for this point in the year; however, neither commissioners nor city council members have taken any public action beyond noting that collections are currently off. In the wake of the 2007 county-wide re-evaluation of property values, a number of county and city residents saw their tax bills increase significantly, which could account for some of the slow payments. Elected officials also noted that while taxes are due in December, the reality is that some residents wait until their income-tax refund check is in hand before paying what is due.
The Morgan County tax office is currently closed for employee training, and Tax Commissioner Becky Astin was unavailable for comment this week.
In other county business, commissioners voted unanimously to uphold the recommendation of the Morgan County Planning Commission and rezone 92 acres of agricultural land between Pierce Dairy and Indian Creek Roads as industrial.
The land is expected to be developed—over the next 10 years or so—as three million square feet of light industrial space, under the auspices of the Patillo companies and Stone Mountain Industrial Park.
Several conditions suggested by the planning commission were included in the rezone—the buildings will eventually total no more than 3.1 million square feet; no single building will be larger than 500,000 square feet; no curb cuts will be permitted on Indian Creek Road until that road is paved to county standards; all truck traffic from the site will exit the property to the north, via Pierce Dairy Road and Hwy. 441, rather than to the south via Indian Creek or Aqua Roads; and finally, the developer will assist the city of Madison in preparing the intersection of Pierce Dairy Road and Hwy. 441 for a DOT-approved traffic light. Some citizen concerns, including the potential truck traffic on Mission Road and possible light pollution, will be taken care of by county ordinances already in place and were thus not part of the conditions for approval of this rezoning. Patillo is expected to be the sole architect and contractor on the project.