Commission: New Year’s Eve is not a county holiday

Published 10:36 am Friday, January 4, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission did not close the Lowndes County Courthouse New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, and it was not a county holiday.

An official statement to that effect was made Wednesday night at a continued meeting of the commission from Dec. 10.

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Commissioner W. Dickson Farrior said he received calls about the courthouse being closed New Year’s Eve. Farrior said he wanted the commission to make a statement that “the commission didn’t have the courthouse closed. It was up to the individual office holders.”

The deadline to pay property taxes is normally Dec. 31 according to Lowndes County Tax Collector Roslyn A. Smith.

Smith said the Lowndes County Commission “did not put the money in our budget for this year” to allow the tax collector’s office to set up online payments.

Smith said the courthouse was closed on Dec. 31.However, “We’re not charging a penalty today (Wednesday, Jan. 2) or tomorrow (Jan. 3),” she said when asked earlier Wednesday.

Smith said the fact the courthouse was closed was posted before Christmas on the tax collector’s door, the tax assessor’s door and the probate office door.

“Number one, the only entity that can close the courthouse is the County Commission, other entities can’t close the courthouse,” Lowndes County Commission Attorney Hank Sanders said in wording the statement approved.”Number two, the only entity that is authorized to declare holidays is the commission. Other entities can’t declare official holidays.”

“Number three, as I understand it they, they (department heads) simply decided that they were going to take a vacation day… it does not end up costing the county anything,” he continued.

“Number four, the challenges that arise are if something needed to be filed on that day in the probate judge’s office or you’ve got to pay your taxes or something in the tax collector’s office… that’s where potential problems arise,” Sanders said. “But I think it would be good that an official statement was made, in my opinion, saying these were the days the County Commission authorized and the commission office was actually open and those actions were taken by department heads on their own.”

Carnell McAlpine moved that Sanders wording be approved as the official statement, seconded by commissioner Brenson Crenshaw and unanimously approved.

Commission Chairman Robert Harris said New Year’s Eve was not a county holiday.

“No, it was not,” he said when asked. “The only holidays that we had were Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day,” Harris said.

“No, sir, I sure don’t. I’m very busy today,” Smith said when asked if she wanted to comment on the commission’s statement.