By. John Haksch, Louisa County Field Officer
In a report to the Louisa County Board of Supervisors, Treasurer Henry B. Wash stated that 25% of the county property owners were delinquent in paying their county taxes.
In an effort to raise awareness of this issue, the County Treasurer’s office sent a letter to all Louisa County employees. Several members of the Board of Supervisors received calls from constituents with questions and complaints regarding this letter.
In part, the letter stated:
“As Employees of Louisa County you are aware that the taxes are the lifeblood of our government. Because government cannot operate without tax revenues, we have adopted specific methods of collections according to the Code of Virginia § 58.1-3919.
With the addition to the previous Tax Delinquent notices mailed to all taxpayers of Louisa County, the next action of our collection program is to give our own county employees the opportunity to pay their delinquent taxes before sending the debt to collections. Collection efforts include such actions as Treasurer’s lien, Warranty-in-Debt for Judgment, Withhold Vehicle Registration at DMV, Withhold Virginia Income Tax Refund, Distress Levy and Judicial Sale.
We have added internal payment plans designed to fit your budget needs, and a new local ordinance approved by the Board of Supervisors to help get your taxes current.”
Several of the county employees who complained about the letter pointed out that at no point did this letter state whether or not they themselves were delinquent in their tax obligations, nor that it was simply a form letter sent to all employees. These omissions, according to Willie Gentry (Cuckoo District), “are unacceptable.”
According to Mr. Wash, the delinquency rate among county employees is consistent with the 25% rate of county at large, and is similar to the rates encountered in neighboring jurisdictions. He stated that he felt county employees should be held to a higher standard than the general populace, since they derived their incomes from the taxes paid by all the county residents, and that all county employees should be current with their tax liability.
Mr. Wash went on to explain that his office was trying to raise awareness of the options available to any county employees who may be delinquent in their county taxes – not to single out individuals. He conceded that while it may have been more appropriate to limit the letter to those known to be delinquent, the computer systems currently in place – used to identify the owners of a property – are unable to “see” any names beyond the first person listed on a deed, which means there is no way to determine whether or not any names exist after the first, or if those names might be those of a county employee.
John Haksch is the Louisa County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support our work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org