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Long tax commissioner asks for write-off
1129 Tax commissioner
Long County Tax Commissioner Becky Fowler talks to the county commission last week. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle

A request to remove thousands of dollars in delinquent tax bills was made last week in a Long County Commission work session.
The commission took no action on Tax Commissioner Becky Fowler’s request to remove approximately $95,000 from the county’s delinquent tax bills. She said that some of the past-due bills were from as far back as 2000. Fowler said that all of the bills are from taxes levied on personal equipment or property. None were on real estate or land. Appalachian Mountain Tax Services reviewed her records and recommended the bills’ removal since there was nothing to collect on from the bills.  
Commissioner Gerald Blocker asked her when property could be taken and then sold by the county to collect on a past-due bill, and Fowler said after three years.  She said that any back taxes that are owed are placed on all bills when they are sent out.  
After discussion, Fowler and the commissioners agreed that every effort would be made to prevent past-due bills from not being paid for an extended period of time.  
Also at the work session, library-board members Joe Sullivan and Brent Klindance asked for assistance regarding a full-time employee at the library who is in jeopardy of losing their medical insurance. Klindance said that last May, they were told the cost to provide medical coverage for their employees would increase from $7,079 to $17,832 annually. He said that he approached someone from the Long County Commission and asked if library employees could be placed on the county’s plan, since the county provides the majority of the library’s funding. He was told yes. Although he was asked, Klindance declined to reveal the individual’s identity. County clerk Mary Ann Odum said that no official action was ever approved in a commission meeting.  
Klindance said the commission chose not to place money in the new budget to continue the medical coverage, so one of their employees would not be insured. Commissioner Dwight Gordon said that he did not feel right dropping the person’s coverage because they are a current employee and may be undergoing medical treatment. Commissioner Willie Thompson called it a regrettable situation, but said this person isn’t a county employee, so the county should never have started paying for the insurance and should stop paying for it now.  
Chairman Robert Long said current policy states that medical insurance is provided only to full-time employees of the county. If they change it for one person, they would have to change it for others, he said.  After a lengthy discussion, the commission decided that they would take no action and options would be researched.
Liberty Regional EMS supervisor Darrien Ewbanks asked whether the commission would extend the EMS contract to provide coverage to Long County. The contract ends at midnight Jan. 1. Ewbanks said “rumors” had surfaced that Long County is seeking bids to provide services. He also said that Liberty Regional Medical Center CEO Scott Kroell is prepared to meet with the commission to discuss continuing services.  
Long said that the commission has not begun actively seeking bids “as of yet.”
Blocker asked Ewbanks about the billing policy for patients who call for ambulances, but change their minds and refuse transport when the EMS unit arrives. Ewbanks said those people could be charged an assessment fee, which is less than the standard transport fee, but the hospital determines whether a person will be charged.  
Ewbanks also reported that they responded to 96 EMS calls in the county in October.
Republic Services spokesmen Randy Dixon and Richard Lee met with the commission regarding to trash pick-up in the county. Lee said that the poly-cart commercial rate is $156 annually. It’s the same for all businesses and commercial trailer parks beginning in January.

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