Fayette tax commissioner seeks raise – or does he?

Tue, 05/13/2008 - 3:54pm
By: John Thompson

Wingo asks for increased fees to collect taxes for cities; opponent says Wingo wants pay raise; he says it’s for his employees

Tax Commissioner George Wingo recently floated a proposal that would have cities pay for tax collection, and also add revenue to his department.

If subjected to added tax collection charges, cities likely would pass that expense along to city taxpayers.

Wingo’s proposal drew immediate fire from his July 15 GOP primary opponent, former County Commissioner Linda Wells.

“What would citizens get for this additional cost?” Wells asked in a letter to the editor on Page A7 in this issue. She charged some of it would go into Wingo’s pocket.

“His proposal was for the county to ‘split’ that revenue with him in order to increase his existing $101,000 salary,” Wells wrote.

In a memo obtained by The Citizen dated March 12, 2008, Wingo explains that it has been the practice of the tax commissioner’s office not to charge cities for collecting municipal taxes.

“The Fayette County School Board is the beneficiary of local legislation passed in the 1960s exempting that taxing authority from paying the statutory fees for the collection of taxes,” Wingo wrote.

But Wingo said, many tax commissioners around the state do charge cities and school boards and generally charge between $4 and $6 per parcel.

He added that the fee is split in many jurisdictions between the county government and the tax commissioner’s office.

“Many tax commissioners rely on these fees to supplement their income. The minimum mandatory salary for some tax commissioners is still less than $30,000,” he said.

The four cities of Fayetteville, Tyrone, Brooks and Peachtree City have 22,095 parcels, which could generate between $88,000 and $132,000 in extra revenue for the county.

Wingo said he was forwarding the information at the request of commissioners Eric Maxwell and Herb Frady. Wingo sent the information to all the county commissioners, with the exception of Commissioner Peter Pfeifer, who was not on Wingo’s email list.

On Tuesday, Wingo said he was only providing the information for discussion.

“Frankly, it’s up to the County Commission to decide. This would not be a salary supplement for me. This would be for my employees,” he emphasized.

Wingo’s explanation is not the same as that of interim County Administrator Jack Krakeel, who responded to the information April 9 in a memo to all the commissioners.

“Recently, our tax commissioner submitted an email to each of you regarding possible interest in charging municipalities for the collection of taxes within their jurisdiction. Included in his response was creating a possible linkage between these charges and the salary of his office,” Krakeel wrote.

Krakeel said that some counties compensate tax commissioners with a portion of the charges, but “that is not the case in Fayette County, where the salary is predicated on population being served.”

If the commissioners wanted to move forward with the issue, Krakeel suggested the process be based on recovering actual expenditures associated with collecting the taxes.

“Consideration of dividing potential revenue from this initiative with the tax commissioner in order to increase his overall compensation should be a separate discussion,” Krakeel concluded.

Contacted Tuesday, Commissioner Robert Horgan said the issue came to light after Peachtree City started increasing the fees it charged for services.

“I think the consensus of the board is not to do this,” he said.

According to Wingo’s opponent, “The beginning salary for tax commissioner was (and still is) approximately $72,000. With cost of living increases, longevity and pay increases, Mr. Wingo’s salary has, understandably, increased over the last 16 years. But if $101,000 is not enough for this elected position, than how much is?” Wells wrote.

“It would not result in his office providing more services. It would not result in extended hours. It would not result in more staff and shorter lines,” Wells charged.

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veni_vedi_vici_fayette's picture
Submitted by veni_vedi_vici_... on Tue, 05/13/2008 - 11:12pm.

My question is: would this interrupt Wingo's playing solitaire on his computer or his bringing his gun to the office?

Submitted by thenatural on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 6:27pm.


What arrogance! Here we are battling to keep our jobs, not lose the house and get a loan to buy gas, and George is trying to pad his retirement account. He really has been there far too long.

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