Hopkins County Commissioners during a special court session called Monday, the Commissioners Court acted on a request for a property tax payment refund, accepted a donation and tabled a a contract to obtain new equipment for Precinct 1.
Tax Payment Refunding Request
On Feb. 22, the Commissioners Court was asked to consider a request from Carlos Whitaker for the $5,367.16 he paid on someone else’s taxes to be refunded to him.
Hopkins County Tax Assessor/Collector Debbie Pogue Mitchell at the Feb. 22 meeting explained that the county had received a letter requesting the refund.
“Someone had told the man if he paid the taxes, it was going to be his. He didn’t pay Sulphur Springs ISD because they were quite a bit more than ours, but he did pay Hopkins County for three accounts in the amount of $5,367.16. So, they are asking for a refund of that money back to Mr. Whitaker,” Mitchell explained to the Commissioners one week ago.
Mitchell directed the request to the Commissioners Court because the amount paid is over $500; any refund above $500 requires a ruling by the Commissioners Court.
“I have to do refunds all the time for things from the Appraisal District, but I don’t ever have customers that pay other people’s accounts that come back and ask for a refund. That’s also very unusual,” Mitchell noted.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley pointed out the man did not go through the proper channels regarding the matter and asked why he didn’t go through his attorney to handle that transaction.
“I don’t know,” Mitchell replied to Bartley. “I didn’t wait on him. I don’t know what his intent was. The first story that I was kinda involved with, this man thought his house was built on one of these tracks. It is not, had nothing to do with it. The one acre that his house is on is like three tracts over. I don’t know where he got his information. I have no idea what the man had in his mind.”
Mitchell recommended that the $5,367.16 paid by Whitaker on the other person’s taxes be refunded to him.
“He should get his money back. He’s not going to get the property,” Mitchell said on Feb. 22, noting that approximately $10,000 in taxes are still owed to Sulphur Springs ISD for the properties in question. “Just because he paid me, he’s not going to get the property, and it wouldn’t matter if he paid the school, he’s not going to get the property. It does have a suit on it, but he was way out of line in paying the taxes.”
“My opinion is he was not trying to pay the taxes for someone. His intent was not to pay the taxes for someone. His intent was to gain the land so he was misinformed,” County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook told the court last week.
Bartley said he’d like to have more time to think about the matter, and made a motion Feb. 22 to table the matter. Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price seconded the motion, and the Commissioners Court unanimously agreed to table the request.
Monday, Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom noted that the commissioners had time a work session last week to take a closer look at the situation and discuss it.
They “un-tabled” the request, with Price making the motion to return the money to Whitaker as requested. Bartley seconded the motion, which then received unanimous approval of the Commissioners Court.
Other Court Business
The agenda called for the Commissioners Court to consider approving the purchase of a 2019 Volvo pneumatic roller for Precinct 1 through Buyboard cotnract with Romco Equipment Company. However, at the March 1, 2021 meeting, Barker asked that the request be tabled. He noted that he needed to gather more information regarding the matter. Barker said he had planned to rent the needed equipment, but may still propose something different. He noted the Aulsbrook is checking into the matter for him.
Aulsbrook recommended accepting a donation of $41,538 from Summit Ranch Investments to Precinct 4 for road repairs on County Road 4721, and approving a budget amendment to move that funding from the general fund to the Precinct 4 road building fund to be used to make road repairs on CR 4721.
“I have a gentleman who bought some property down there. He’s wanting to be able to access Interstate 30, so he’s going to pay to have it rocked,” Price said, noting that there’s a house and the intend to add at 1-2 more homes along that stretch.
The court agreed and approved the budget amendment.
The Commissioners Court also approved payment of bills, revenues and expenses, and financial statements are presented. Typically, these items would have been approved at the Feb. 22 meeting. Aulsbrook at that time explained that her office had been off last week due to the weather and asked that the court delay payment and approval of all except payroll for another week to allow time for the necessary work to prepare them.