Jeffco may be hit harder on occutax refunds

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County could be hit even more on the pocketbook in the occupational tax case.

A status conference was held Friday where DeKalb County Judge David Rains says he was dismayed at some part of the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling. Rains says the almost $38 million held in escrow could be $10 million dollars higher.

Attorneys for Jefferson County say the ruling allows them to recollect the money plus legal fees. Attorney Matt Lempke says it is not time to discuss those questions.

"The whole issue of how the recollection will work is premature. We have to wait and see what the Supreme Court is going to say and then have to wait and see what Judge Rains is going to do,"Lempke said.
        
Last week, Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins said taxpayers could be reassessed any refund plus up to $13 million in possible legal fees. "Take those envelopes if they even get them and put on it return to sender," Collins said.
                  
The attorneys who filed the lawsuit against the county challenging the old occupational tax say Collins is trying to intimidate the taxpayers not to accept a refund."I don't think there is any way to construe Ms. Collins comments but not to take the money. It's very offensive to me."McFerrin said.
            
DeKalb County Judge David Rains in court says he wants to hear arguments on why Jefferson County should not pick up the tab for up to $13 million dollars in legal fees instead of taking the money out of the refund amount. County attorneys say no. "The county has already objected to the fees coming out of the taxpayers' pockets so we are certainly going to object to the order the county pay 13 million in legal fees with no benefit to the taxpayers," Lempke said.

Attorneys for the taxpayers say the county should not try to stop or recollect the refunds."We have a county commission. We have one member who says she wants to implement a revenge tax," McFerrin said.

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