Property taxes are never meant to shackle the doors of local businesses, according to Mayor Herb Adams.
“But that’s what is happening,” he said. “If a property owner owes the city money, businesses that rent from that property owner are being denied a business license or occupancy permit. This is not what we want to do.”
There is a cost penalty to the property owner for late payment of taxes. Amount due after the due date is printed on the property tax bill.
Adams said he is calling for a complete review of the way the city collects business real estate taxes, personal property taxes and vehicle registration fees.
“We want to collect all the taxes that are owed to the city,” the mayor said. “But we don’t want to shut down one business for another business’s late taxes. These taxes were never intended to shackle the doors of a business.”
Adams said he met last week with Collector Debbie Kelley to go over his administration’s policies for issuing city business licenses and occupancy permits in rental business property.
The mayor also wants to meet with Franklin County Collector Linda Emmons about Pacific taxes. The county bills and collects real estate taxes then remits Pacific’s portion the 15th of each month minus a small administrative fee.
Adams wants Pacific businesses to be able to go to the county and pay only their Pacific taxes.
Under the current policies, if a property owner is delinquent on any portion of its city taxes, occupancy permits cannot be issued for other properties.
Recently, Emmons allowed one Pacific business to pay his city taxes only. Rumors of the transaction ran through the town and other Pacific businesses wanted the same privilege.
Emmons refused, saying it was too complex to collect only a portion of the tax, But Adams said the county collector is wrong.
“She created this problem for Pacific businesses when she allowed one business owner to pay his Pacific taxes only,” Adams said.
The mayor said he wants a new contract with the county, which allows businesses to pay only the Pacific portion of their taxes.
“These are very hard times and businesses are striving to stay afloat,” he said. “We want to give them every advantage.”
There is a penalty for paying taxes late, which is to pay a penalty tax. It’s printed right on the bill if paid by this date this amount is due, with higher amounts due for paying still later.
“We should not add to that collection penalty by creating a collection policy that penalizes property owners by preventing them from doing business,” Adams said.
City Attorney Dan Vogel described the issue as “very interesting.”
“There is nothing new here,” Vogel said. “You can’t get a permit or business license unless you pay you taxes and fees.”
The current practice forces the person to pay all their taxes before they can run for city office.
“They should only have to pay their city taxes to get a business license or run for office,” Adams said.
If an agreement cannot be reached with the county collector, Adams said he’s willing to have the billing and collection of Pacific taxes returned to the city collector.