published Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Alabama cities repay overpayments

Jackson County, Ala., municipalities have settled accounting errors in property tax disbursements that mistakenly overpaid the cities, including a $188,000 overpayment to the county seat of Scottsboro.

Scottsboro Mayor Melton Potter said Thursday the overpayments were revealed in a state audit a couple of months ago in the Jackson County Revenue Commissioner's Office. The audit showed a calculation error occurred over a two-year period.

"We repaid it at the first of this week," Potter said, of Scottsboro's share of returned money.

The funds had been split evenly among the board of education, city general fund and bond fund, he said. The funds were retrieved from those three pots to return to the revenue office.

That means the pain of repayment was spread out so it wasn't too big a hit for any one fund, he said.

City officials had hoped to make repayments over a couple of years.

"The state pretty much told us we didn't have a choice in the matter," he said.

Officials in the revenue commissioner's office said all of the county's towns were overpaid, but the amounts disbursed to the smaller municipalities were so small they immediately returned the funds. For Scottsboro, the amount was much greater and several actions had to take place to give the money back, officials said.

Bridgeport Mayor David Hughes says the payback hurts but at least the bill's settled.

The $10,000 owed was taken out of Bridgeport's January property tax disbursement, Hughes said.

The money shuffle will leave the city a little shorter than expected, he said.

"We thought we had $10,000 more than we had," Hughes said. "It hurts. It'll take a little while to recover, but we will."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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