Editor's Note: This letter has been submitted by county attorney Larry Stanley in response to remarks made by Trustee Darlene Bryant during a county meeting:
This letter is being written to correct the misinformation which was published in the June 25, 2017 Sunday edition of the Southern Standard. In an article entitled “Trustee wonders why back taxes ignored,” Trustee Darlene Bryant was blaming the office of the county attorney for not collecting tax funds. Trustee Bryant also implies that these tax funds might be lost if no action was taken before a sale of the property. Neither of these suggestions is true.
By state law in Tennessee, delinquent property taxes are collected by a tax sale coordinated by the Clerk and Master’s office. The property is sold to satisfy the delinquent tax debt and this process is conducted through a court proceeding. In this case, the properties in question are all within the city limits of McMinnville. Because the city has an interest in collecting their delinquent taxes, the sale cannot be conducted by Warren County alone. Additional, for the Clerk and Master to conduct a tax sale she must have in her possession all the necessary documents which are required for the sale. As of the date of this letter, the city has not yet provided the necessary documents needed to conduct the tax sale.
The article in Sunday’s paper further states the County Attorney’s office is at fault for losing tax revenue and this is completely inaccurate. The County Attorney plays no role in determining which properties are sold to collect delinquent taxes.
This decision is made by multiple offices. In addition, the tax debt is not extinguished if the property owner sells the land before the taxes are paid. When the tax sale is ready to be had, the property will be sold regardless of whoever the owner may be and how many times it may have been transferred. The tax debt always follows the land.
The sale of the Metal Products Company property on Bell Street is scheduled for Thursday June 29, 2017. As of the date of this letter, $141,010.63 in delinquent taxes and an additional $20,609.00 in current taxes are to be paid as part of the sale.
These payments represent the entirety of the 202 Bell Street tax debt as well as voluntary additional tax payments on other properties not being sold. This ability of the county to collect this tax debt was never in jeopardy.
Finally, it is important to point out that the only correspondence regarding this topic which the office of the County Attorney received was single email in May from County Trustee Darlene Bryant. Contrary to what was stated by Trustee Bryant in the Southern Standard article, the office of the County Attorney received no letters and no telephone calls prior to the Budget and Finance committee meeting of June 22, 2017.
These untruthful statement by the County Trustee are the most unsettling potion of the article. This entire misunderstanding could have been avoided with a simple telephone call.