By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Commission upholds tax waivers
Office gets nod to grant them
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

Other business

Also Tuesday, the Forsyth County commission took the following action:

• Agreed to amend the county alcohol ordinance so that only those people selling alcohol are required to hold an employee alcohol serving permit. The change will require two public hearings.

• Gave authorization for a vendor symposium that will allow potential businesses to learn about county policies. The event is slated for September.

Note: All votes above were 4-0, with Commissioner Brian Tam absent. Tam left in the middle of the meeting due to "transportation issues."

-- Alyssa LaRenzie

The Forsyth County commission on Tuesday retroactively ratified 1,103 tax waivers totaling an estimated more than $100,000 that had been granted since Jan. 1, 2006.

Due to "a process oversight," as Commissioner Jim Harrell called it, Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter did not have the authority to waive penalties or interest without the board's approval during that time.

The law allows the county commission to grant waivers of interest and penalties incurred by taxpayers or to grant the tax commissioner the authority to do so on behalf of the commission.

Ledbetter's predecessor, Joyce Pendley, had been granted permission in 2003 and again in 2004 to waive penalties and interest on behalf of the county commission.

The last resolution was adopted Dec. 20, 2004, and expired Dec. 31, 2005. Ledbetter took office January 2005.

On Tuesday, commissioners voted 4-1, with Harrell opposed, to approve each previously unauthorized waiver and grant Ledbetter the authority to issue current and future waivers.

Harrell said he needed more time to review each waiver personally, but agreed that the tax commissioner needs to be able to review the currently requested waivers.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said the office has "things backing up that need to be addressed."

The basis of each previous waiver was reviewed by the county attorney's office, which provided a simple summary spreadsheet of all names, dates and reasons.

"Based upon my review of those, I see nothing that stands out," County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

He also noted one instance in the descriptions that is not considered a waiver by state standards, but was organized that way by the local office.

Though no exact total dollar amount of waivers was provided due to time constraints, Jarrard said the tax commissioner estimated more than $100,000 had been waived during that period.

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse, though not pleased that the tax commissioner "waived without the permission of the board," approved the measure for the sake of residents.

"I am not necessarily in favor of going back and asking those people who've been granted waivers to come back and pay the waived taxes because that's in the past," he said. "It's something that should not have happened but did.

"I don't see any sense in penalizing the citizens over the issue."

Of the more than 1,000 waivers granted, just six provided no reason for the relaxation of penalties or interest: Red's Realty, G&M Property Investors, Joel Burnett, Sarah Fogarty and two for BellSouth.

No candidates for local office appeared on the list.

Commissioner Jim Boff's name did appear, as having $5.35, or one month's interest, waived for "owners having paid remaining amounts owed," according to the summary.

Boff said he had not requested the waiver.

The commission ratified all but his waiver Tuesday, leaving that matter between Boff and the tax commissioner.