Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thomas speaks at conference
By SUE WATSON
Marshall County Chancery Clerk Chuck Thomas spoke at the statewide convention of chancery clerks last week on the topic of reconciling bank statements in a timely manner.
He was asked to speak on the topic because of the early detection of the identity theft of one of the county’s bank accounts which helped stop check fraud before the county’s account was raided. The county only lost $200, Thomas said. Other checks written to businesses were blocked because his office worked with the bank to get a visual inspection of every check, he said.
Check fraud is not an unknown problem for counties, he said.
“Hancock County had an internal type fraud where an attorney stole $600,000 out of an account and used it to purchase a $500,000 house in Florida,” Thomas said.
Unfortunately, the attorney committed suicide, he said.
“Still the mess is there for someone else to clean up,” he said.
A suspect has been arrested and charged in the identity theft of Marshall County’s checking account.
Other items of interest that were covered at the mid-winter conference of chancery clerks included:
• received a legislative update from Trey Bollinger on all bills affecting counties and how some bills could adversely affect counties.
“He talked about unfunded mandates by legislators,” Thomas said. “The association is monitoring that.”
Derrick Surrett, watchdog for the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, also discussed unfunded mandates and how they affect counties in a positive and a negative way, he said.
• heard secretary of state Delbert Hosemann discuss three issues on the ballot this fall.
They include legislation that determines when life begins, affecting the issue of abortion; voter I.D. and imminent domain.
“Hot topics,” Thomas said. “The referendum determines at what point and for what reason the government can take your land and how long they must hold the land before it can be resold.”
• learned a bill which died on the calendar would have reduced the dollar value of purchase orders not exceeding $50,000 without putting an order out for bids. The legislation would have reduced the figure to $5,000 thus slowing down work that is done by road and bridge departments, Thomas said.
• listened to a discussion on an initiative to perfect the process of the annual tax sale.
“It would have made it harder for landowners to get their land back,” Thomas said.
Causes that many families have is the sale of taxes affecting heirs when they have their relative in the hospital or nursing home and do not know that taxes are delinquent on property owned by their loved ones.
Other causes that affect the sale of property for taxes is determining when taxes are put on the sale when there is a bankruptcy in progress.
“Bankruptcy laws are federal laws that trump all county and state law,” Thomas said. “You still have to pay your taxes if you are in bankruptcy. We’ve seen more bankruptcies than in the past because of the economy.”
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