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County still working to collect fire fees

By Sherri Ellington The list of property owners who did not pay their county fire fees in 2011 and 2012 is still a work in progress, said county commission chairman Jay Matthews. ‘We’re still going over the list, which is a litigation issue at this time. It’ll go to magistrate court and we’ll put liens on the property,’ said Matthews. ‘We’ll release the list when it’s ready to go to court. It’s a whole lot shorter now than it was a couple of years ago.’ The number of landowners who have not been verified as paid is down to about 10% of the total list, he said. This includes some people who have paid but the county has not yet verified the payment. ’We’re still collecting the fees, especially from properties that were in foreclosure,’ Matthews said. ‘There are also people who had multiple parcels that paid on some and they’re still producing evidence that they’ve paid.’ Those who remain on the list when it goes to court will see the debt added as a property lien. If the land is transferred or mortgaged the money must be paid at that time. ’We don’t want to give out the list until we’re sure it doesn’t have any names on it of people who have paid,’ he said. ‘People would be upset at the county, and rightly so, if we named them erroneously.’ Addressing last week’s letter to the editor in The Herald Gazette on the subject from John Samek, he said the men discussed the issue on Jan. 30 and Samek seemed understanding of the issue at the time. ’I apologize for not getting a quicker response to him,’ said Matthews. ‘The ball is in my court and I take responsibility for that.’

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