Friday, June 30, 2000

Sheriff loses tax collection duty




By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Campbell County Sheriff John Dunn isn't looking for a feud with the city of Newport. But he is concerned that citizens may perceive that his office hasn't done a good job of collecting taxes, he said, especially given the ongoing tug-of-war over property tax collections.

        The city recently announced it is assuming the task of collecting property taxes for the Newport Inde pendent School District, a job previously handled by the sheriff.

        Sheriff Dunn's office would still collect the ad valorem tax for school districts in Bellevue, Dayton, and Silver Grove as well as for the county school system.

        But with Newport tax collections, the city has said it can do a better job.

        An analysis by the city indicates that the schools should realize an additional $200,000 or more through the city's tax collection efforts, compared to having the sheriff collect.

        The changeover means that early payors of the tax will no longer enjoy a 2 percent discount, said Sheriff Dunn.

        “We think they should have to offer the discount,” he said. “If not, then we can also stop offering the discount and provide the (Newport) school board with the additional money.”

        However, Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini said Thursday that the city is not required to offer an early discount and does not do so for other taxes paid early.

        “Our thinking is, the lack of the 2 percent discount is just one component of a plan to provide more funds for the schools,” he said. “Our analysis shows we can give the schools more tax money and also make money for the city, thereby keeping all the money in the city.”

        The sheriff's office char ges the school district a 2.5 percent collection fee for current tax collection. Mr. Ciafardini said the city will charge the same.

        The difference comes with delinquent tax collection efforts.

        Currently, the Campbell County clerk's office, not the sheriff, collects late tax receipts, along with a 33 percent collection fee. The city would charge the usual 2.5 percent fee.

        Mr. Dunn takes issue with statements by city officials that the city would be a better tax collector.

        “They are not more efficient that we are,” he said. “As of June 16, we collected 98.6 percent of taxes, between my office and the county clerk. That's as good as anyone in the state.”

        The city expects to make about $100,000 in additional revenue for collecting the school tax. That breaks down to an annual loss of about $67,000 for the sheriff and $23,000 less for the county.

       



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