The city of Laurinburg is owed just over $300,000 in taxes, according to a report by Laurinburg’s finance director.
City Finance Officer Cindy Carpenter told the Laurinburg City Council on Tuesday that $300,104 was owed to date.
That figure represents an approximately 96-percent tax collection rate, which Carpenter said is common for the city.
About 30 percent of what remains outstanding is owed by businesses.
“Most of them will pay,” said Carpenter, adding that the time for courtesy in tax collection is drawing to a close.
“From this point on, it is more of an enforcement (attitude), with full force garnishment,” Carpenter said. “After January, these taxes are late.”
At next Tuesday’s regular city council meeting Carpenter and tax collector Diana Chavis will ask council members for permission to advertise tax liens during the week of March 4-8.
That is about a week before Scotland County will advertise their tax liens.
Based on past experience, Carpenter said that it is likely as much as $80,000 or $90,000 will be collected within the next month prior to the advertisement of tax liens.
The 96 percent tax rate collection approaches a near-all-time high of 98 percent, which Carpenter said occurred just a few years ago.
Also during Tuesday’s agenda planning session council continued the work of creating a policy for appointing council members mid-term.
Discussion was kick-started last year following the retirement of Councilman Herbert Rainer from his seat. The city’s informal policy of allowing the outgoing member to nominate their replacement without a challenge received some criticism at the time.
The city’s attorney offered some feedback on a preliminary policy drafted by members of the city council, saying that it lacked specificity, particularly with regard to how nominees are to be selected.
“I think we left it intentionally vague because we were reluctant to nail something down at the time,” said Councilman Drew Williamson of the outline policy created by council at a recent retreat.
Councilman Kenton Spencer said that the new policy should be “very detailed” and should eliminate the presumptiveness bestowed upon the nominee of the outgoing member.
“We probably do need to flesh out some areas a little bit,” Williamson said in agreement.
The planning of the city’s annual July 4 fireworks is already underway and the Scotland County government is interested in joining in on the festivities, according to City Clerk Jenny Tippett.
During what Tippett said were preliminary discussions with county representatives, she said that the county had expressed in an interest in expanding the celebration to include “more than just going to watch fireworks.”
The city will assume all $11,000 associated with the pyrotechnics display, with the county looking to partner in any extra-fireworks activities, Tippett said.
Scotland County may contribute the venue, as it has been suggested that the celebration occurr at the Morgan Recreational Complex on Turnpike Road.
Concerned at the thought of partnering with the county, Councilman Curtis Leak said that the county has positioned itself as a Johnny-come-lately to the project.
“It’s one of the real successful things that we have been doing and now that it’s a success they want to come participate. Somebody needs to get the police and see how we can move traffic (from the Morgan Complex) first,” Leak cautioned. “You only have one way in or out there.”
Spencer questioned the county’s ability to participate from a financial standpoint.
“Last time we paid for the whole she-bang. Is the county really in a position to participate?”