Thursday, June 8, 2006
County substation opens
By SUE WATSON
Residents who live and work in the Byhalia, Barton, Mt. Pleasant, Warsaw, Cayce Road and new growth areas can look forward to convenient services with the opening of the substation at 1311 Highway 309 North just three miles north of the town of Byhalia.
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department has been open at the new substation for several months, plus the ambulance service is quartered there and as of Thursday last week, the tax collector has opened a satellite office.
The tax collector’s office will be open on a part-time basis until the public begins coming to the substation to purchase vehicle registration tags and to pay real and personal property taxes. Tax Collector Betty Byrd said the office will be open on Thursday and Friday each week from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. until October 1, 2006, when the fiscal year 2006-2007 budget goes into effect.
Staffers with the most experience, Lynn Shaw, with 20 years in the tax collector’s office, and Barbara Gilliam, with 10 years, will handle transactions for customers for now. Both said they are looking forward to working at the new substation.
“Our goal is to be staffed full-time, five days a week, beginning October 1,” said District 3 Supervisor Keith Taylor, who spearheaded the effort to get some county services closer to the growth area.
District 3 and District 2 are the fastest growing districts in the county.
“Once people figure out they don’t have to drive to Holly Springs, I believe it’s really going to take off,” he said.
Byrd said the substation has been in the planning for about two years.
“I want to thank the board of supervisors because if they didn’t fund this, I couldn’t have opened up,” she said. “I think it shows that when elected officials work together things can get done.”
Besides convenience for residents living further out in the county, Byrd said the new substation should relieve the long lines in the main office in Holly Springs where customers regularly have to wait for service.
In 20 years, the number of daily transactions at the main office in Holly Springs has doubled.
On average, the Holly Springs office can see up to 400 customers a day and near the end of the month, that number can climb to 600 coming in to renew vehicle tags, she said.
All vehicle registration tags expire on the last day of the month, but the public has until the 15th of the month following the expiration of a tag to renew their registration without having to pay a late penalty. So the first few working days of each month are especially busy at the Holly Springs office. Lines get long, sometimes going out the front door.
“Part of our problem is we still have the same number of employee, minus the position of Mr. Fant who was tax collector and assessor, that we had 20 years ago, but we have twice the number of transactions because of the growth in the county,” said Byrd. “I have hired part-time workers for the end-of-the-year and will eventually try to hire one of the part-time employees to help relieve the staff and help up here.”
Byrd said oftentimes at the end of a month and the first of the month, she and her workers do not get the office closed until 7 p.m. or later because of so many customers.
“The long lines are getting to be a constant thing,” she said. “The county’s booming.”
Byrd cautioned that the new office on 309 North may have service problems for several reasons.
“This office is only going to be as good as the Internet,” she said, “because this office connects to Holly Springs and to the office of the State Tax Commission over the Internet.”
The Holly Springs office has a telephone line connection to the State Tax Commission Office, where the information is obtained for tax purposes. But the new office does not have that phone line, for now.
Byrd said the State Tax Commission places the value on the vehicle, not the tax collector’s office.
“Even if the tax line is available, I still have to check for garbage bills due and other holds,” Byrd said. “That information is available in the Holly Springs Office, not at the substation.”
Taylor said the location of the new substation seems to be ideal with the future I-69 expected to be constructed just a half mile north of the substation as it crosses Highway 309 and courses north and west of Byhalia.
“Law enforcement can literally be five minutes away from any location in this area of the county,” Taylor said. “And people living in Barton, Mt. Pleasant, Cayce and the Quinn Road area - all these people can come easily to get their car tags and pay their taxes.
Taylor said much of the construction material and some appliances were donated.
“Bonds Realty in Holly Springs donated a stove and refrigerator for the ambulance service and a local developer, George Lee, donated a stove and refrigerator to the sheriff’s and Betty Byrd’s new offices,” he said. “We had several companies who charged only for the materials they used to help build the substation.”
Taylor said all brick work and other jobs in the construction of the substation went to businesses owned and operated by Marshall County residents.
“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback on this and with the sheriff’s department here and the Byhalia Police Department just a couple of miles down the road, they can work together better,” he said.
The new telephone numbers at the substation are: tax collector’s office, 662-838-5395; sheriff’s substation, 662-838-5394; ambulance service, 662-838-3601.
Patrolling officers are in and out of the substation at anytime, according to Melinda Endersen, receptionist and records clerk. Her regular office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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