Schools now receiving ‘excess’ fund payments

LIVINGSTON -- Past problems with the tax foreclosure excess fund account have been resolved and local school districts are now receiving their share of the money, Polk County commissioners were told Tuesday.

During the commissioners meeting, County Court at Law Judge Tom Brown, District Clerk Bobbye Richards and local accountant Brian Jones presented a report on the tax foreclosure excess fund account as well as a check for over $110,000.

Brown explained that major problems within the account led him to appoint Jones as a special master to work with Richards to resolve the issues and that today, those problems have been resolved.
The account in question contains the “excess funds” received when a tax foreclosure property sells for more than the amount of the taxes that are due. Under the law, the previous owner can claim these excess funds within two years.

The district clerk’s office holds these funds in a special account and after the two years have elapsed, is supposed to disburse the “excess” amounts to the taxing entities that held an interest in the property.

However, in 2014 the county’s school districts came forward with complaints that they had not received their share of those funds for years. Eventually the issue resulted in the resignation of former

District Clerk Kathy Clifton in 2015 and the appointment of Richards to solve the problem.

“We owed the school districts hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Brown said. “It was a real mess and we’ve been working to straighten it out.”

The judge praised Richards and Jones for their work in establishing a system to prevent this problem from occurring in the future.

“Bobbye has put in new procedures and I can tell you that we are now completely in compliance with the tax code,” Brown added.

Richards then presented the county the check, which she described as the last of the “big checks,” adding that the local school districts, the Polk County Fresh Water District #2 and the city of Corrigan also were receiving payments to bring their excess funds up to date.

“From now on we will be making payments quarterly,” she said.

Jail medical care
During the meeting, commissioners reviewed proposals from three companies seeking to provided medical care in the Polk County Jail.

The county expects to spend about $550,000 on inmate medical care by the time the current budget year ends on Sept. 30 -- almost $80,000 over the budget -- and sought proposals from companies to see if there might be a more economical way of providing the required service. However, the proposals submitted would add over $1 million to the cost.

While agreeing that the system needs improvement, commissioners decided to look at alternatives such as increasing the jail’s medical staff from the current two, obtaining the services of a full-time physician’s assistant or working with the local hospital. Murphy agreed to explore those options and report back to the court at a later date.

Other business
During the meeting, the commissioner also:
Approved an agreement with Goodwin Lasiter and Strong to provide engineering services for the Taylor Lake Estates road erosion project being funded under a National Resources Conservation Service grant.