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Back tax gap narrows

Official says most are paid

POSTED: May 23, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Days after Dawson County commissioners voted to take legal action against a local hotel, officials with the business said Monday the majority of overdue taxes has been paid.

"We're now up to date except for April's taxes," said Shelby Harris, general manager of the Comfort Inn in Dawsonville. "At this point, April, which was due on the 20th, is the only month that is outstanding."

Based on 2011 figures, county finance staff estimates $5,300 is owed for April.

Senior Accountant Kaye Molden brought the issue of $15,250 in delinquent hotel/motel taxes to the attention of the county commission, which last week decided to pursue a lawsuit against the hotel.

Molden said she had made several attempts - including phone calls, e-mails and certified letters - to collect the money owed from January through April of this year.

"This tax is payable at the time occupancy occurs," she said. "That rental is paid for. That money is present at that time. This is not a hardship situation where they had to go and collect that money."

Molden said the Comfort Inn, operated by Spectrum Management Inc., has an ongoing history of delinquent tax payments "running anywhere from 30 to 90 days late," she said. "It hasn't been current at all in the last 16 months."

According to the county's resolution on excise tax, penalties, interest and court fees could be added the total owed.

At the commission's direction, the finance department plans to review the county's fine structure, which Chairman Mike Berg said seemed low in comparison to the neighboring areas.

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