Polk to collect taxes by all means necessary

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Polk employee wages could be garnished

The Polk County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Jan. 23 charged tax collector Melissa Bowlin with collecting property taxes by any and all means.

The current total for delinquent taxes for real property in Polk is $1,547,830, according to Bowlin. The total for delinquent taxes for motor vehicles for all years is $225,312.

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Bowlin said the county’s current tax collection rate is between 88 and 89 percent, about the same as at this time last year.

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson told commissioners the tax collector has several means for collecting taxes, including garnishing wages and foreclosures.

The first step for Polk County is to garnish wages of any county employee who has not paid their taxes. The county currently has eight employees who are late on their taxes.

“I don’t think the tax collector has any right to garnish wages if our own house isn’t clean first,” Whitson said.

Whitson said the county will garnish employees’ wages in February.

Bowlin reminded residents that the county is always willing to set up payment plans to get taxes current. Property owners can call or visit the Polk County Tax Office to set up a plan.

Polk County also has seven tax foreclosures that are in process with Feagan Law Firm, which handles foreclosures for the county. Bowlin said no one has been living in these homes for several years, and no tax payments have been made. Bowlin said once she has exhausted all means and has tried to contact the families she sends the process to the attorney.

Feagan Law deals with the foreclosures and adds in fees when the properties go for sale, Bowlin said, so it doesn’t cost the county any money in attorney fees.

The Polk County Tax Office can be reached at 828-894-3301 ext. 2.