Gainous makes proposal to collect city taxes

Tax Commissioner Phyllis Gainous

After being approached by the city of Cairo to consolidate tax collection operations, Grady County Tax Commissioner Phyllis Gainous on Tuesday made her pitch to county commissioners for the county to not only collect school taxes, but city of Cairo ad valorem taxes, too, on a single tax bill.
Such a consolidation of services would be more convenient for city taxpayers, and would not increase any cost to the county government, according to the tax commissioner.
In fact, Mrs. Gainous says the county will generate approximately $9,600 annually from the city for collecting the additional taxes.
“This would eliminate a duplication of services and would be more convenient for everyone. All it would require is adding an additional line to the tax bill. No additional personnel or extra work would be required,” Mrs. Gainous said.
The tax commissioner surveyed other Georgia counties and found that other counties routinely collect municipal taxes and charge a variety of fees for that service.
According to Mrs. Gainous, the city is not interested in paying any more than $3 per parcel and there are approximately 5,500 tax parcels in Cairo.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton told The Cairo Messenger the city’s out-of-pocket cost to collect city taxes in-house ranges between $15,000 to $16,000.
“We are not interested in increasing our costs, but if we can keep our costs level and provide a more convenient service for the taxpayers, then that’s what we want to do. We believe it would be a win-win situation for everyone,” Addleton said.
Under the recommendation made to the county commission Tuesday, Mrs. Gainous proposes the county retain $1.75 per parcel and she would be paid $1.25 per parcel for taking on the responsibility of collecting the city taxes.
The Grady County Board of Commissioners are paid 2.5 percent of total taxes levied by the Grady County Board of Education for the collection of school taxes. However, that fee is required by state law.
The collection of municipal taxes by a county tax commissioner is permissible under state law, but the fee must be negotiated between the tax commissioner and the city and accepted by the county commission.
County Commissioner Bobby Burns asked the tax commissioner how she came about her supplement of $1.25 per parcel. Mrs. Gainous said that was the same fee the Mitchell County tax commissioner charged the city of Camilla.
Commissioner Charles Norton questioned whether the $1.25 per parcel was paid to Mrs. Gainous’ office or to her personally and the tax commissioner said it was a supplement paid to her for the additional responsibilities and would not go into the operation of the tax commissioner’s office.
“Is it $6,900 worth of extra responsibility or did you just use the figure Camilla pays?” Commissioner Burns asked.
Mrs. Gainous indicated she would consider a lesser per parcel fee, but she would not be interested in the additional responsibility for no additional compensation.
Vice Chairman Charles Renaud reminded his fellow commissioners that the proposal would be more convenient and simpler for city taxpayers and would create one bill for all taxes in the county.
“I see that part of it, but you would be using county employees and county equipment to benefit personally,” Commissioner Norton said.
Chairman Al Ball suggested commissioners “chew” on Mrs. Gainous’ proposal and make a decision at a future meeting.
“We know what your proposal is so let us chew on this a while and make a decision,” Chairman Ball said.

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