Local company owed $1M

ALBANY -- The Dougherty County Commission learned Monday that the county, the City of Albany and the Dougherty School Board will have to refund more than $1 million in sales tax money to a local unidentified manufacturing company.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis told the commission that he received notice from the Georgia Department of Revenue regarding a complaint filed by a local manufacturing company that contends the business had unfairly paid sales taxes between 1999 and 2007, he said.

The amount, Crowdis said, was more than $478,000. The city's portion topped $800,000 while school board officials say that October sales tax revenues did dip significantly -- around $400,000, they say -- but it wasn't immediately known if that was due to worsening economic figures or the state withholding their refund amount.

The refunds were pulled from both the Special Local Option Sales Tax fund and the Local Option Sales Tax fund, Kris Newton, finance director for the city of Albany, said.

State officials would not tell the county which manufacturer had filed the complaint.

County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard and other asked Crowdis to send a letter to the Revenue Department asking if the county could spread the payments out over an eight-year period since the manufacturer made the sales tax payments yearly.

Newton said that the state had withheld roughly 52 percent of the city's monthly sales tax revenue to satisfy the refund. The city has averaged around $900,000 per month in SPLOST money, but for October, the city was given $431,000.

"It's something significant," she said. "We had no warning that this was coming so it was quite a shock."

Monday, the Herald sent a request for documents related to the refund to the Georgia Department of Revenue. The agency did not immediately provide the documents.

Newton said that all she had been told by state officials is that a local manufacturer had undergone a state sales tax audit that revealed manufacturing machinery that it had improperly been paying sales tax on, she said.