(Portsmouth, Ohio) Scioto County County Commissioners responded to claims by Portsmouth City Council members that they aren’t doing a very good job of collecting taxes. Apparently responding to Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon’s criticisms, Commissioner Bryan Davis said. “The Commissioners are not collecting taxes. She is right. That’s not our job. That’s the auditor’s job. Maybe a quick tax 101 lesson.”
At Monday’s Portsmouth City Manager’s meeting, Council Vice President Sean Dunne suggested that the county was doing such a poor job collecting delinquent back taxes, state intervention is needed. “I think we need to ask the state for assistance. Say, frankly, we’re not doing a good job here. We need to do better. Bring someone down here.”
Davis’s response to that suggestion? “I understand there was a statement made. We need to go to the state auditor and have the state auditor come down. You know what? Do it!”
Charlotte Gordon agreed that there’s a problem. ” “I think this is a very important issue that doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of the commissioners who are supposed to be collecting them.”
Working Hard To Collect Taxes
However, Davis said the council representatives are mistaken if they think the county doesn’t work hard to collect delinquent taxes. “I will tell you, that we, too really really hate the fact that there are people in this county who don’t pay their property taxes. We fund positions in our prosecutor’s office to go after people in court who don’t pay their property taxes.”
Davis said schools and other local agencies are underfunded due to delinquent taxes. However, that doesn’t mean the county doesn’t pursue back taxes. “The auditor and treasurer have collected more than $3 million in delinquent taxes.” He said when those offices can’t work out a payment schedule for people in arrears, they head to the county prosecutor. “They have collected over a million dollars in delinquent funds.”
The commissioner said the process is difficult. “These taxes are hard to collect. You have estates that are bankrupt, people who have moved out of state, and corporations that are bankrupt.”
Davis cited the former New Boston Coke Plant property. “The largest bill on that list is $700,000. That is New Boston Coke. That’s never going to be collected. The land bank is working to get that property out of the trust and get it cleaned up. It’s going to be a 20-year project. It takes time. We’re trying to get the trust on board.”
Commissioner Mike Crabtree said council members might want to remember that some people simply cannot afford to pay their taxes. “The reality is that in this world we live in that sometimes people find themselves in a pretty tight position. They cannot pay their taxes. The sad part is that they eventually lose their homes. Nobody wants to be homeless. The people living on the backside of the levy aren’t happy. This isn’t something happening in Scioto County because the commissioners don’t collect the taxes. Everybody don’t have a six-figure income and no financial worries. We have to deal with people in a humane fashion. Not everybody is a scoundrel.”
Davis said the COVID shutdown left many local businesses hanging by a thread. “How are they paying their taxes? How are they doing that? Do I make payroll or do I pay taxes.”
Commissioner Cathy Coleman said she had a great deal of sympathy for those going through hard times but that she understands the frustration. “There are some people in that list that are 30 years in arrears. When they are not paying the taxes it devalues the person who is paying their taxes and taking care of their homes.”
Davis advised anyone in tax trouble to speak with the county treasurer. “Please don’t hide from the debt. Come into the treasurer and talk to him about it. They can come up with a plan. Nobody wants to see anybody foreclosed on. Let’s have some empathy here.”
Davis said that anyone who thinks commissioners don’t care about delinquent taxes should speak to the county prosecutor. “He’ll tell you what his division is doing. Every single week they’re doing this work and it’s tedious work.
The commissioner said he thinks he knows what’s behind the attack. “I have a feeling this is being brought up because this is a political season. Some think they need to take jabs at the county commissioners.
For reference, review this article