The Hall County Board of Commissioners decided to put the subject of biannual tax collections up to voters one more time at its meeting Thursday evening.
The county will now draft a nonbinding referendum that will clearly explain the mandatory due dates and penalties required by state law if voters choose to have their taxes collected in two installments.
The question was first proposed to voters in a nonbinding referendum in November 2008, and nearly 70 percent of voters answered they would prefer to pay taxes twice a year.
But in late 2009, commissioners were ready to approve Oct. 1 and Dec. 1 due dates when they learned state law would require a 5 percent penalty if the first installment is not paid by the Oct. 1 due date.
The commissioners decided to delay collecting twice a year because they weren’t convinced it would be in the best interest of taxpayers.
On Thursday, the majority of commissioners agreed it would be important to put the matter before voters again and let them make a decision with all the information.
"If we put something misleading on the ballot, making people think it was one thing and it wasn’t then we should take responsibility for fixing the ballot," said Commissioner Ashley Bell.
Commissioner Steve Gailey said
putting it back on the ballot is important because so many people liked the idea in 2008.
"To me it was just so overwhelming last time whether they understood it or not. This time we’ll know that they know what this means, that it’s mandatory," Gailey said. "I personally am not in favor of this, but it’s the people’s decision and if it’s what the people in the county want then it’s what we’ll do."
Commission Chairman Tom Oliver made it clear he was not in favor of the twice a year collections.
"I think it’s too complicated and I don’t think it’s a benefit to the community," Oliver said.
The commissioners also discussed drafting a formal letter to send to banks asking them to maintain foreclosed properties in the county.
Andre Niles, director of the Hall County Marshals Office, said many vacant, bank-owned properties aren’t maintained because large companies don’t have contacts on a local level.
He suggested compiling a list of local landscapers who can be hired to cut the grass until a real estate agent can take over maintenance of the property.
"I got a phone call today that I’m sure we’ve all received that said the house next door to me has been foreclosed on and repossessed by the bank and they’re not keeping the yard up," said Commissioner Billy Powell.