Commissioners updated on delinquent tax collections

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

By Dawn Burleigh


Orange county Commissioners Court heard a report on the progress of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP collections of delinquent property taxes.

“The current tax statements are about to go out,” Steve Bird said during the Tuesday afternoon meeting. “We are working on the ones from 2015 to prior.”

Commissioner Barry Burton asked about how old was the oldest debt.

“There is a limitation of 20 years, unless a lawsuit is pending,” Bird said. “Any part that is 20 years dissolves.”

Bird said the report was a snapshot of the progress in collections, which includes $3.3 million in property taxes.

“There is a lot of work still to be done,” Bird said. “But I am happy with the direction we are going.”

Owing property tax, County Tax Assessor-Collector Lynda Gunstream confirmed, will prevent one from being able to register a vehicle.

“$875,000 suits have been filed,” Bird said. “The return rate is pretty high. Once a suit is filed, 56-percent will pay.”

Bird also said there are a significant number that owe from 50-cents to $5.

The court also approved the bid for trust property located at the 2400 block of Pacific in Orange.

“This was a sealed bid auction,” County Tax Assessor-Collector Lynda Gunstream said. “The delinquent taxes of nine years. The neighbor bid on it and has been mowing it all these years. It is a good bid and will get the property back on the tax rolls.”

The court also approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Region 5 Prevention Resource Center and Orange County.

“Region 5 deals with alcohol and drub abuse,” County Judge Brint Carlton said. “This will allow data to be shared and collected with 15 other counties. It is not binding nor is there any funding involved.”

Region 5 Prevention Resource Center is a program of the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas (ADAC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Our focus is threefold:

  1. To collect relevant data on underage drinkingmarijuana abuseprescription drug abuse and other drugs and to assess the need for prevention services in Region 5.
  2. To liaise with schools, public health, local & state governmental agencies, coalitions, and community organizations to raise public awareness, and to coordinate prevention preparedness.
  3. To educate retailers concerning the sale of tobacco to minors and encourage compliance to Texas tobacco laws.

Region 5 consist of 15 counties: Angelina, Hardin, Houston Jasper, Jefferson, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler. Through coordinated working relationships within our region we are able to build a REGIONAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT that can then be used in the formulation and implementation of evidence-based approaches that will lead to effective and sustainable reductions in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use and abuse, and an overall improvement in public health and welfare, according to the official website.

“This will give us more resources for us for programs we may need for Orange County,” Carlton said.
Sheriff Keith Merritt said the Orange County Sheriff’s Office renewed a Memorandum of Understanding with Region 5 in September.

Carlton also said the court is considering meeting in the evening next week followed by a town hall type forum.

“It was brought up during the public hearings that we should have evening meetings for those who work,” Carlton said. “To give an opportunity to ask commissioners questions we will have a Town Hall, open forum after the meeting.”