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County targets long due tax bills

IRONTON — Lawsuits to collect back taxes on almost 300 Lawrence County properties are in the works.

Treasurer Stephen Burcham told the Lawrence County Commissioners in its regular Thursday meeting that information on back taxes owed by the owners of 273 parcels has been turned over to the county prosecutor. Suits are expected to be filed in the next few days and could bring in $1.08 million.

“These taxes are more than two years old,” Burcham said. “These are not people caught in the economic downturn. They have knowingly avoided paying their taxes.”

Of these parcels 80 are in the city of Ironton in the north and south, near the highway interchanges.

When a collection goes to court, there is $250 in court costs levied against the owner, on top of the back taxes. The property owner is notified and must pay the court costs before he can pay the taxes.

In the case of the current parcels, court costs could bring in more than $68,000.

Also there will be a tax lien sale in October or November on 600 to 800 parcels in county.

Burcham stressed his office will offer assistance to homeowners unable to pay their taxes by setting up a monthly payment schedule, however, they must make arrangements in person.

“It is imperative they come in and set up a contract,” Burcham said. “I want to keep them in their house, if we can.”

In other business, the commission:

— Agreed to write a letter of support for funding for Phase II of an EPA study of the former Alpha Portland plant undergoing development as a possible economic development site by Realtor Cheryl Bolender.

— Agreed to send a letter to the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services for certain financial information, including cost of staff, number of employees, benefits and amount they billed and collected.

— Agreed to consider a request by Eastwood Consulting of Huntington, W.Va., to offer insurance consulting for a fee of $3,000 or $3,200 a month depending on the level of service.

— Approved the retirement of Allen K. Caldwell as assistant administrative supervisor.

— Accepted the change order to install an electric hand dryer and wiring in each of two restrooms in the administrative building at the Union Rome Wastewater Treatment Plant at a cost of $3,166.

— Heard from businessman Rob Slagel asking the commission for its support for the Ironton Port Authority.

— Filed a notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a public notice about adding six more spots in a barge fleeting area for McGinnis, Inc., in South Point.