Liberty County Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones asked the city of Hinesville for help collecting delinquent personal property taxes that business owners may owe on their business’ equipment and inventory.
Jones proposed Thursday during a regular city council meeting that the city require applicants who renew their business licenses to pay any delinquent personal property taxes before they are issued a business license.
The tax commissioner stressed that he is attempting to collect past-due personal property taxes, which often are lost when a business dissolves or is sold.
The only recourse his office has, Jones said, is to place a lien on a delinquent business’ property.
“Once that business closes … there’s nothing to sell or seize,” Jones said, referring to uncollected tax revenue on a delinquent business’ equipment and inventory.
Jones told the council that the majority of Liberty County’s businesses are in Hinesville and estimated that 7 percent of personal property taxes remain uncollected.
District 2 council member Jason Floyd expressed concern that Jones’ proposed amendment could keep new businesses from opening or shut down businesses struggling in an economic downturn.
Jones said his office is willing to work with residents to help them get caught up if they are behind on their taxes.
Mayor Jim Thomas directed City Attorney Linnie Darden to research and draft an amendment to the ordinance for the council to consider.
In other city business:
• The council authorized Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards to contract with the Georgia Municipal Association to manage the collection, remitting and reporting of the city’s hotel/motel tax revenue.
Edwards told the council that Hinesville has seven hotel/motels. Flemington, which is considering a similar contract with the GMA, has six lodging establishments, he said.
The contract has two terms; the first term from November through December will be pro-rated and the second is from January through December 2012, Edwards said.
He added that the GMA will train hotel and motel operators about the hotel/motel tax law and reporting requirements. Revenue from the hotel/motel tax generates $700 per lodging establishment, or about $4,900 per year, according to Edwards.
• The council approved a bid to contract for consulting services with P.C. Simonton & Associates to oversee the transportation-enhancement project on Central Avenue.
Hinesville Assistant City Manager Ken Howard told the council that the Georgia Department of Transportation awarded the city $250,000 to help fund the project, which is the fourth phase of the $1.4 million Memorial Drive realignment project. SPLOST will fund the remaining costs of this phase, Howard said.
GDOT’s grant will help fund the building of 1,200 linear feet of roadway and sidewalks, improve handicap accessibility and install a multi-use path and street lighting.
P.C. Simonton & Associates was one of two firms that actually submitted a bid. The city’s engineering firm will receive a fee not to exceed 9 percent of the project construction costs, according to Howard.
• The mayor reminded the council that a delegation of community leaders will travel to Washington, D.C., in November to meet with U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston and Pentagon officials to discuss their concerns about the local economy.
• Edwards informed the council that a budget hearing will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, to allow the public to comment on the city’s proposed budget for FY 2012. The council plans to adopt the budget at its Oct. 20 meeting. The Hinesville City Council regularly meets at 3 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month.