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Late notice

Towns across Hertford County renewed their tax collection agreements with the local county government this year, but not all were happy about changes in the agreement or the way they were notified.

Hertford County provides tax collection service on behalf of its towns and retains a portion of that money collected as a fee for the work. This year, municipalities received a letter stating that the county would retain one percent more collected from real and personal property tax than in previous years.

The letter stated that extra one percent is “due to an increase in administration fees paid to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles for collection of local taxes.”

“We already had our budget in place and this letter came afterwards,” said Murfreesboro Town Clerk Carolyn Brown during the Town Council’s meeting on June 27, the same meeting where they adopted the new fiscal year budget.

Council member Sarah Wallace mentioned the notification was rather late, and Mayor Hal Thomas noted the letter was sent to his home address instead of the town hall.

The letter was dated June 1, though it was received later than that.

The Murfreesboro Town Council decided to discuss the matter further with the town attorney in closed session.

The News Herald contacted other municipalities in Hertford County and many reported that the notification letter had been sent to the mayor’s home address instead of the town hall, and the letters were received after the towns had already drawn up their proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

“The letter was dated June 1, but he [Ahoskie Mayor Jimmie Rowe] didn’t receive it until June 11,” said Ahoskie Town Manager Kerry McDuffie.

McDuffie also noted Ahoskie’s Town Council voted for and adopted their new budget before knowing about the increase. This creates an issue, he said, because their budget allows for the county to retain three percent, while the county’s budget expects to retain four percent.

“Somebody’s budget is not going to work,” he said.

McDuffie stated he and Brown had worked together to send a letter on June 29 expressing their concerns to Loria Williams, the Hertford County Manager.

The Ahoskie manager said he understood the county’s tight budget position, “but the more we can work together and communicate, the better off we’re going to be.”

Harrellsville Town Clerk Dina White said they, too, had been notified late of the increase.

“We had already done the budget by the time we got the letter,” said White.

She stated the town would have to pass a budget amendment in order to reconcile the issue. Additionally, she explained that an increase in the landfill fee from the county will also affect their general fund budget.

Amanda Henderson, who serves as Winton’s Town Clerk, said she wasn’t sure when exactly the notification letter was received because it too went to the mayor’s house. She contacted the county about that issue, noting that the letter would be less likely to be overlooked if sent to the town hall.

“We’re a small town so any kind of increase affects us,” Henderson said of the collection change, but added it wouldn’t be too difficult to deal with.

Mayor June Wynn of Cofield stated the town would not see a big impact from the increase.