County owed $1.7 million in delinquent property taxes


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    WASHINGTON, BEAUFORT COUNTY - The Beaufort County Tax Collector's Office is getting tough on people who don't pay their property taxes on time.

    "I didn't like it much," said Ester Rowe, who says, it wasn't easy, but she paid her property taxes to the county in December, before the January 5th deadline.

    "I'm a widow now so it was harder," said Rowe.

    But not everyone paid up.

    There are still about 18,000 bills owed to the county, equaling about $1.7 million. And now, Tax Collector Wyn Kinion and his team are aggressively going after that money.

    "We're going to start garnishing. We're sending out second notices. We're going to start doing wage garnishments, bank garnishments, and foreclosing on property," said Kinion.

    With the help of a new computer system, the process of singling out those who still owe money has gotten easier.

    One of the names you'll find on the top 25 list of people who haven't paid their taxes is former county commissioner Stan Deatherage.

    Kinion says Deatherage has worked out a payment plan for the 30 different bills he accumulated. He now only has four bills left to pay, which will be paid in full in four months' time.

    We went to Deatherage's home for comment. He declined to go on camera.

    "A lot of people are just on budgets... I'm willing to work with anybody. If you come in, now I will tell you... pretty much, the say we need to go at is now," said Kinion.

    County officials say the money collected every year from property taxes makes up 55 to 60% of the next year's county budget.

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