2017-08-16 / News

Fleming-Neon officials facing problem of trying to collect property taxes from those who won’t pay


Mayor Susie Polis presented a certificate of appreciation from the City of Fleming-Neon to Lila Stines for her work with Kids Can. Mayor Susie Polis presented a certificate of appreciation from the City of Fleming-Neon to Lila Stines for her work with Kids Can. Delinquent taxpayers in the City of Fleming-Neon could see their taxes sold for non-payment to third party purchasers soon.

At the August meeting of the Fleming-Neon City Council, the council voted to table further discussion of raising taxes for the city while Mayor Susie Polis explores other options. Polis and several council members were clear that selling delinquent taxes to thirdparty purchasers is one of those options, as years of unpaid taxes have worn their patience thin.

The possibility of raising property taxes was also mentioned. The council has tried to avoid raising taxes in the past, but the likelihood of facing another year of stagnant financial growth makes it likely that something will have to be done. Polis told the council she has always resisted a tax increase because she feels like it punishes people who pay their taxes on time and allows the delinquents to get away free. She said that an effort last year to simply shame delinquent taxpayers into paying up by publishing their names in The Mountain Eagle had largely been unsuccessful. The City of Jenkins has held two successful delinquent tax sales, the latest one in July, after publishing latepayers’ names in The Eagle.

Council members Linda Cantrell and Susie Fleming asked how much longer the council can continue to do the city’s business without increased revenues and Polis pointed to Police Chief Mike Dingus and told the council that the taxes go to pay Dingus’s and other city employees’ salaries. “I don’t want to raise it,” said Polis. “If everybody would pay, it would help.”

Joe King, who was appointed recently to fill the seat vacated by Cheryl Furby, said the council might want to look at legalizing alcohol sales.

The current tax rate in the city for property taxes is $.25 per $100. Tangible property is taxed at $.45 per $100 and motor vehicles are taxed at the rate of $.25 per $100. The discussion will be renewed at next month’s meeting and a decision is expected then. When taxes are sold to third-party purchasers, penalties and interest are demanded in full, as well as sometimes exorbitant court fees. The purchasers can file liens on delinquent taxpayers’ property as well.

In other business, Mayor Polis presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Lila Stines for her work with Kids Can. Lila is a fifth-grade student at Martha Jane Potter Elementary School and the daughter of Deputy Sheriff Mickey and Caroline Stines. Kids Can is a national organization established to support children in need. Lila said that in her work, she helps to raise funds for sick children and buy coats for children who don’t have them.

Harold Kelly of Nesbitt Engineering reported that work on the Fleming-Neon Water plant should begin within the next few weeks. He said the contractors have been slowed by difficulties in getting some of the material they ordered but that work should be underway soon.

Water Department Manager Chris Banks told the council there was a 32 percent water loss in July, and said city workers recently identified a major leak in a three-quarter inch line in the yard of an abandoned house that was causing much of the water loss. He said the entire yard was soggy and the leak has been repaired. Banks also said the water tank in McRoberts that was hit by a fallen tree is undamaged. He said inspectors certified the tank as safe and said it was probably over-engineered, but added that a lesser tank would have collapsed.

Mayor Polis told the council she received an inquiry about a possible new business in the city from Pharmacist Craig Stallard, owner of Family Drug in Neon. She said Stallard wants to install rental storage units in the vacant lot behind the pharmacy and inquired about the cost of a business license. Polis said the city does not have a specific license fee for storage units, but she will check with nearby cities to see what they charge. The matter will be addressed at the September meeting. Polis also said that work on the new restaurant in town will start as soon as the plumbing permit is final. The restaurant is owned by Joanna and Mark Hardin, who also own and operate Fifth District Restaurant in Whitesburg.

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