The political divide between the city of Pacific and Franklin County grew wider Tuesday.
The Franklin County Commission voted 3-0 to terminate the contract to collect Pacific’s taxes.
Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said the decision to terminate the contract had nothing to do with the fact that Pacific last week filed a lawsuit against the Brush Creek Sewer District.
County Collector of Revenue Linda Emmons said she no longer wanted to be caught in the middle of Pacific’s tax collection problems.
‘Best for Taxpayers’
“I hate to have had to call the contract, but I feel that I am doing it in the best interest of the taxpayers and Franklin County and also my office,” Emmons said.
Emmons said the city of Pacific has an ordinance about tax collections that has created problems for her office.
The ordinance states that Pacific property owners must pay all of their city taxes in full before being granted business licenses, permits and utility connections.
This has caused some Pacific property owners to come to Emmons’ office asking that their municipal taxes be split out from the other taxes they have to pay. The property owners apparently feel that if they can just pay their city taxes then they will be able to get their business licenses, permits and utility connections.
But Emmons said she does not have time to split out the city portion of the taxes from the full bill. This can make the Pacific property owners angry, she said, adding that she does not want her office caught in the middle anymore.
Moreover, she said it would not be fair to other taxing entities, such as school districts, if residents were allowed to only pay a certain portion of their bills.
Fail to Agree
To resolve the issue, the county asked Pacific to change its ordinance to say that residents would only be required to pay their personal property taxes, not their real estate taxes, before being granted permits, licenses and connections.
She said this is the way other cities in Franklin County handle tax collections. Emmons’ office also collects taxes for New Haven, Washington, Union, Sullivan and St. Clair.
But Pacific refused to change its ordinance in this fashion. If Pacific ever changes the ordinance, the county can start collecting the city’s taxes again, Emmons said.
“It would be easy to put them back into the system,” Emmons said.
She said if her office knew by Sept. 1 that Pacific had changed its ordinance, that she could still collect the city’s taxes this year.
Griesheimer agreed that the county will be glad to reinstate the contract if Pacific changes its ordinance. Under the agreement, Pacific paid Emmons $2,000 and the county clerk $2,000 a year.
It was reported earlier this week in the Pacific section of The Missourian that Pacific will start collecting its own taxes again this year.