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Late Property Taxes And Questions From Media Highlight White County Board Meeting Tuesday

White County Treasurer Pam Armstrong says it appears the time table will hold with regards to the late property taxes.  She’s hoping the documents will make their way to her office around the end of this week or next week and that tax payers will have them in their mailboxes in less than a month.  That was part of her update at yesterday morning’s County Board meeting.


“They should go out to the tax payers the first or second week of October. The due dates, official, the first installment will be due November 15th. The second installment will be due January 15, 2020. We’re a couple of months behind in getting our revenues, our income from taxes, which is hurting us a little bit. I talked with Brad Lee and the schools are going to be fine. We’ll get them to you as fast as we can.”


She says her office has received a small amount of pre payments though she doesn’t expect she’ll be able to disperse those amounts until taxes go out.  Beyond that, your opportunity to do a pre-payment is up.


“We have to cut it off. Once we start processing, we can’t take pre-payments. It goes back to first installment/second installment. So probably this week, as of now, we are not taking pre-payments. We are going to go ahead and start our process.”


White County Ambulance Director Adam Allen reports his office has been busy and turned a profit last month.  An expense is going to cut that account total down to around $18,000 shortly however.


“This last month we had a profit of just over $26,000. That’s going to be taken away pretty well. Our last payment is the Stryker cots that we purchased. That’s a $36,000 payment. That $26,000 brought us up to just over $53,000 in our account, so we’ll be able to knock that payment out and still have money in our account.”


White County States Attorney Denton Aud was absent, instead choosing to attend 2nd amendment litigation in that state capital, specifically a White County case according to County Board chair Donnie Puckett.  County Coroner Chris Marsh was the only county officer with a report and he sung the praises of County Ambulance personnel for their efforts.

The entire meeting lasted just over 30 minutes.  Questions from the media took about 10 minutes and the bulk of the meeting was spent on a well received sales pitch from Shepard Insurance with regards to health and liability insurance for the county.  Kathy Sands asked if the county board had any plans to pass an ordinance banning the growing, sale, or distribution of marijuana ahead of the state law legalizing recreational pot.  Puckett said…they haven’t really gotten around to coming up with a position yet.


“We’ve been talking about that. I think we’re going to put that on the agenda for next month. We’ll talk to the State’s Attorney about it and see what we have. I don’t think we have decided (whether to allow it or ban it) at this time.”


Sands said she believed that Norris City and Enfield as municipalities were leaning towards banning it.  Grayville meanwhile is barreling towards allowing, the sale at least in city limits.  That will be a topic for October apparently.


The radio station reporter had multiple questions with regards to animal control and also the Treasurer’s office.  Our own Jc Tinsley began by asking if the county had any rules, regulations, policies and/or procedures for the position of Animal Control Officer.  That question after an interview with Mick unearthed he had received no instruction from the board with regards to how to do his job.


While there’s no apparent rules or regulations, it’s probably handy for board members that Mick is not on social media.  Further pressing, Tinsley asked about the supposed $800 or so that had been donated as part of a #CoolMeDown fundraiser to provide air conditioning for the animals kept at the shelter.  That led to a whole new issue, more on that in a report later.


Whispers of wrongdoing also made their way into the Board meeting with Tinsley asking questions of the Treasurer’s office.  Among them, he asked about outside access of the courthouse cpu system by the Treasurer and whether because of that, reports that homeland security and the election board had to be contacted.  That led to a defensive explanation and exchange on why questions get asked in the first place.


“Number one, I don’t know that we’ve ever been hacked. Number two, I don’t know that there was ever a problem with anything that has been done. There was a question that I had used, when I was sick, I had my fall, that I could dial in and Kemper said it was alright. Somebody else had a little problem with it. It doesn’t happen enough that I really cared anything about it. I said I didn’t have to do it. That was fine. I don’t know where you are getting your information about being hacked and homeland security. They’re not facts . You have to have facts. None of those are facts, they are all just hearsay.”


And finally, Tinsley pressed Armstrong on financial documents being placed online for public access as they had been in the past.  About a month ago, our reporter visited Armstrong’s office and says he was told, “while Armstrong believes in transparency, she said in the same breath that she wasn’t required to [make those documents available online]” which led to him asking if plans were to make them available for public access on the county’s website.


“Once I get taxes out and other things take priority over that, you can go in any time you want to and see it in this office. They are filed every month. That’s how you can see them. Every month, they’re there.”


After the excitement, the last twenty minutes of the meeting were pretty mundane.  Pamela Barbee was in attendance to put a face to the name with regards to the Southern 14 Workforce.  The group approved the Fiscal Year 2020 Holiday Calendar.  The White County Board made their annual contribution of $2,500 to the White County Soil & Water Conservation District.  That donation was already built into the budget.  We expect to get our paws on the Fiscal Year 2020 Tentative and Preliminary Budget in the coming days.  The last 15 minutes were spent with regards to the quoting process for health and liability insurance.  The board seems ready to move away from the Hope Trust as commentary within the meeting was overwhelmingly negative with regards to the coverage county employees are currently receiving.

The White County Board will next convene on October 8th at 7pm.  They’re expected to act on the budget and tax levy on November 12th.