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Tax collections are down in Hall County this year
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners requested an update on tax collections from Tax Commissioner Keith Echols at its work session Wednesday.

Echols estimated that 10 percent less money has been collected this year than was collected by this time last year.

One round of delinquent tax notices already has been sent out. Echols said the majority of the delinquent tax payers are large property developers, rather than individual homeowners.

He will prepare information about the situation to present to the commission at today’s 5 p.m. board meeting.

Also, District 2 Health Director David Westfall presented a new comprehensive environmental health ordinance to the commission at the work session.

The ordinance would allow environmental health violations to be dealt with through the magistrate court instead of the state superior court.

"At least 99 percent of issues could be dealt with more efficiently this way through the magistrate court," Westfall said. "We would be embracing it at the county level so we can handle it locally."

Westfall said handling environmental health violations at the county level would save both time and money.

"The only way we have currently to actually enforce regulations if someone is not compliant with them is to take them to state court, superior court, and that involves having to hire an attorney and that becomes much more complicated and much more expensive," Westfall said.

Westfall said many health districts throughout the state have worked with their respective county commissions to adopt environmental health ordinances so they become county regulations, allowing health districts to deal with problems at the local level. Taking violators to magistrate court does not require an attorney.

"Things can be dealt with much more quickly, much more efficiently and much less expensively," Westfall said.

All of the rules and regulations that would be adopted are already being enforced, but if the commission approves the ordinance, they could be regulated at the local level.

The ordinance would cover a wide array of violations including everything from swimming pools to food services to septic tanks.

A public reading is scheduled for the commission’s board meeting Feb. 12.