People living in certain types of mobile homes in Franklin County might soon have to buy decals to display to prove they’ve paid their taxes.
At their work session this week, the Board of Commissioners heard from Franklin County Tax Commissioner Bobby Martin who explained an ongoing problem with some mobile homes.
Martin said people who own their mobile home, but do not own the property it sits on, do not always pay a property tax.
Of the 1,533 mobile homes that sit on property not owned by the mobile home owner, about 200 or 15% are delinquent on their property taxes currently, Martin said.
Martin said those homes could be foreclosed on and sold at auction, but he said that is a burden to the county because the homes once sold, must then be moved immediately.
However, he said there was another way to ensure taxes on those homes were collected, by using decals.
“The law requires us every year to issue a decal,” Martin said. “The law requires under the Georgia code, that these are to be displayed on the mobile home so that when the officer goes by, he can see it and it’s readily visible.”
Each year the decal is a different color with the year posted on it.
Martin said if a current year decal is not on the mobile home, then those who do not pay would be issued a citation and pay a fine in Magistrate Court first before any foreclosure proceedings began.
Martin said this will help raise the property tax collection rate on what is called, “prebill homes,” without the mobile home owner facing the loss of their house.
However, Commissioner Clint Harper said he was worried about those mobile home owners who are struggling and might not be able to pay the tax, that they might end up in jail for non-payment.
“A lot of people living in these mobile homes are struggling financially,” Harper said. “If they can’t pay, are they going to end up in jail? I can see where it would be an easier avenue. I just want to make sure the ends justify the means. I (also) don’t want to hear in a year’s time that we need to hire extra personnel because we have so many of these cases coming in.”
But Martin said the only way a mobile home owner would be arrested is if they failed to appear in Magistrate Court to pay the fine and the judge issued a bench warrant. Fines he said, would be assessed at between $25-$200.
“We don’t want to throw anyone in jail. We’re not heartless,” Martin replied. “I’m sure if they come to court and they cannot pay, we will try to work with them as best we can.”
Martin said he consulted the Stephens County Tax Commissioner and was told since they started using the decal system they have had very few cases come before the Magistrate Judge and no homes had to be sold at auction to pay the tax.
The Board took no action on Martin’s proposal, but plan to discuss it again at their regular meeting next month.