Benham considers outsourcing tax collection

Joe P. Asher Staff Writer

January 14, 2014

Benham City Council is considering contracting with the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office for the collection of the city’s taxes.

Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird addressed the council concerning the pros and cons of his office taking over collections.

Council member David Kidwell introduced Lipfird to the panel. Kidwell chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Wanda Humphrey.

Lipfird told the board his office is set up by statute to collect taxes.

“It’s one of the actual duties and obligations of the sheriff’s office,” said Lipfird.

Lipfird said the sheriff’s office has been collecting taxes for the neighboring city of Cumberland for about two years.

“Mr. (Roy) Silver asked me to give you a little presentation of what we do for them, which is exactly what we’ll do for you, and what we do for the county school system, the library and everyone else,” said Lipfird.

According to Lipfird, state law requires his office collect taxes no later than November.

“When Cumberland came to us, they were collecting about $65,000 — at the most $70,000 — a year,” said Lipfird. “Last year we collected I think $114,000 for them. This year just for the three months we’ve been collecting, we’ve collected $124,542.69.”

Lipfird said if the council decides to contract with the sheriff’s office, they will collect all current taxes. The Harlan County Clerk’s Office, by statute, collects all delinquent taxes.

Once taxes are delinquent a payment plan can be set up through the county attorney’s office, stated Lipfird.

Lipfird said his office charges 4.25 percent of what they collect as a fee for the service.

Lipfird pointed out that not everyone will be happy with being required to pay both county and city taxes at the same time.

Another downside, according to Lipfird, is that his office cannot collect taxes owed from previous years.

The council did not take any action on the issue.

Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510, ext. 113, jasher@civitasmedia.com