County commissioners agreed on Feb. 14 to write off more than $40,000 in personal property taxes from 2003 to 2006.
Crawford County Collector Pat Schwent urged the commission to go through with the write-off, which will help clean up records and balance the books.
Schwent had consulted with state auditors before making the recommendation.
“Do we have documentation from the state auditors that tells us we need to write that off?” asked District 1 Commissioner Paul Watson.
“It’s up to the commission to say if you want to write it off or not,” said Schwent. She said Jeanette Eaves in the state auditors office left it up to commissioners.
“it has to originate from you,” said Schwent.
Watson remained unconvinced, concerned of the ramifications of writing off the debt without any documentation.
Schwent again said it was up to the commission.
“You don’t have to have any documentation from the state to tell you what you choose to write off in your county books”
Schwent said she was “down to the wire.”
“I don’t know if they’ll give us anything or not, but I called her.”
Watson wondered what the implications could be if they did not sign off.
“None,” said Schwent.
She explained that most of the people who owe the personal property taxes in 2005-2006 are out of the county and “it’s mostly dead paper.”
“It’s bad debt,” said District 2 Commissioner Kenny Killeen.
Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders put it in simple terms.
“We’re not going to collect it,” he said. “Chances of collecting it are none. So what we will do if we don’t sign off on it, she won’t be able to balance her books.”
Killeen added that it “should have been written off several years ago.”
Schwent’s office has been investigating the various taxpayers who still owe to the county, but found that several people are deceased, several people are incarcerated and several people have moved out of the county altogether.
“We’ve done our research,” said Schwent. “I didn’t take this lightly.”
Sanders again reiterated how important it was to write the debt off.
“Can we get the money? Yeah, we’d like to get the money for the county,” he said, adding that it did not look like they were going to.