At a meeting next week, the Barrow County Board of Commissioners will decide whether to request an investigation into alleged irregularities in the Tax Commissioner’s Office. The issue is on the May 13 voting session agenda, and distributed Friday with the agenda was a copy of an unsigned letter that, with the BOC's approval, would be sent by County Manager Randall Dowling to Sheriff Jud Smith. The letter states:
“As you may know, recent issues have been raised about the appropriateness of the operation of the Barrow County Tax Commissioner’s Office. Specifically, it has been brought to my attention that a verbal contract with a service provider has been in effect for years that may result in a financial benefit to the Tax Commissioner’s husband and that the Tax Commissioner may have provided a private office for her husband within County offices.
“Because the Tax Commissioner is an independent, elected official of Barrow County, the County does not have general oversight or authority over the Tax Commissioner. Accordingly, the County has not conducted an investigation or otherwise taken any action to date with respect to these allegations.
“In an effort to be responsive to mounting questions and concerns being raised by County taxpayers, and at the direction of the Board of Commissioners, I respectfully request that the Sheriff’s Office conduct an investigation into the allegations and/or the general operations of the Tax Commissioner’s Office as you see fit in your wisdom and discretion. While we understand that this might be more properly referred to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for review given that it involves an elected official, I wanted to defer to your discretion for any such referral outside of the County.
“Please understand that I do not take any position with respect to whether the allegations are true, and most certainly, do not take a position as to whether any of the allegations, if true, rise to the level of a violation of criminal law. It is only in an abundance of caution and out of a desire to be a responsible steward of the taxpayers’ money, that I make this request for your assistance and review. I will ensure that you have he full cooperation of the County, its staff, and its auditors with respect to any investigative efforts.”
Smith told the Barrow Journal that if he receives the letter, he would ask the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct the investigation.
The board's meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Commissioners Meeting Room is on the second floor of the historic courthouse at the corner of North Broad and W. Athens streets in downtown Winder.
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