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Dougherty tax director says uncollected property taxes ‘mushrooming’

Denver Hooten says Dougherty County tax collection rates consistently at 99 percent

Dougherty County Commissioners Clinton Johnson and Gloria Gaines hold a discussion Monday prior to the commission’s work session at the downtown Government Center. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Dougherty County Commissioners Clinton Johnson and Gloria Gaines hold a discussion Monday prior to the commission’s work session at the downtown Government Center. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

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Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Terron Hayes discusses DSO youth programs during Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting as county commissioners John Hayes, left, and Lamar Hudgins view a slide presentation. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — Retiring Dougherty County Tax Director Denver Hooten left Dougherty County Commissioners with an ominous reminder Monday at one of the final commission meetings she’ll attend as a county employee.

After updating the board on uncollected county taxes from 2006 to 2012, Hooten warned that the trend in Dougherty County and statewide is a decline in on-time tax payments.

“Uncollected taxes is a growing thing,” Hooten, whose last day in office is Dec. 30, said. “This board needs to be aware that our delinquent amounts have mushroomed in recent years.

“A lot of that is just economics.”

Hooten’s presentation showed $245,894 in uncollected real estate taxes in 2012, which when added with delinquent public utilities and personal property taxes in the county, amounted to $437,831 in unpaid tax revenue.

Still, the tax director said she expects an “85 to 90 percent” on-time collection rate by Dec. 20, when taxes are due, and an overall collection rate at around 99 percent for 2013. The rate was 99.63 percent for 2012.

“If you look at the collection rates across the state, you don’t get a 99.63 percent or a 99-plus on a consistent basis,” Hooten said. “The people of Dougherty County pay their taxes.”

Hooten’s presentation was one of three during Monday’s work session. Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul and DSO Lt. Terron Hayes gave an overview of the department’s youth intervention programs for 2013. Hayes spoke briefly on 13 of the “14 to 18” youth programs utilized by the sheriff’s office, including the department’s C.H.A.M.P.S. program, its Pre-K “Stranger Danger” program, its bullying prevention program and its Scared Straight intervention program.

“These programs impact not only our youths, but parents and other adults in the community as well,” Hayes told the commission.

Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission Director of Marketing and Existing Industries Barbara Rivera Holmes showed the commission the “We Are Albany” promotional video created by EDC staff.

“This sets the stage for some good things to come in our community,” Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said.

Commissioners also briefly discussed the rezoning and special approval requests from New Communities Inc. concerning the nonprofit’s efforts to turn 41 acres of land on the former Cypress Pond Plantation into an indoor/outdoor events center. The property was purchased by New Communities in 2011.

The Planning Commission approved both requests by 9-0 votes last week.