Elected officials in Tennessee town not paying property taxes, audit says

Elected officials in Tennessee town not paying property taxes, audit says

Add a Ridgeley alderman and a town employee to the list of people in Tennessee who rely on taxpayer money for their salaries but aren’t paying their own tax bills.

An audit didn’t identify the two people by name, but it says they skipped paying their property taxes this year, according to the report, which the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office released Wednesday.

This is not the first time auditors have called out an elected official in Ridgeley over this issue.

“The Town’s officials and employees must serve as an example for the community,” auditors wrote.

In their official response, town officials said they would now collect all delinquent taxes and turn them over to the city attorney. They also said they would prohibit town employees and town officials from paying their property taxes late.

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO: Audits from Tennessee Comptrollers show not one but two aldermen in the town of Ridgeley aren't paying the property taxes they passed into law (photo courtesy of Google Maps).

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO: Audits from Tennessee Comptrollers show not one but two aldermen in the town of Ridgeley aren’t paying the property taxes they passed into law (photo courtesy of Google Maps).

The town employee has already paid his taxes, town officials responded.

Mayor Steve Jones told Tennessee Watchdog he wouldn’t identify the alderman, other than to say it’s a woman.

“She will probably pay hers any day now. This is not the first alderman we’ve had who didn’t pay their taxes. It was just a one-time thing,” said Jones, adding that people in his town have two years to pay their property taxes before the matter is turned over to the city attorney.

Jones would not say how much money this alderman owes.

“These alderman don’t get paid but $50 a month to be an alderman. She is just a little late on her taxes,” Jones said.

Jones said the alderman has a full-time job outside her duties as an elected official.

This is not the first time State Comptrollers have called out an elected official in Ridgeley for failing to pay taxes.

As reported, Alderman Frankie Smith owed $306 in unpaid property taxes last year.

Elsewhere last year, auditors said, several Dyersburg city employees were more than six months late in paying their property taxes.

At the time, City Recorder Bob Jones, who collects property taxes, and Mayor John Holden, said they knew nothing of those specific audit findings — even though city officials received the audit three months before.

Auditors reported in 2014 that Hawkins County taxpayers were on the hook for $166,886 in late fees and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to that audit, the former school finance director, Myron Dale, failed to notify the IRS about deposits to a payroll tax account used to deposit employee payroll taxes.

Dale was required to notify the IRS of these deposits, but he failed to do so between November 2012 and March 2013, the audit said.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org 

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