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Saturday February 13th, 2016 12:19PM

Barrow Commission votes to pursue Tax Office investigation

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter
WINDER - The Barrow County Commission voted unanimously at their Tuesday night meeting for County Manager Randall Dowling to send a letter prepared by the county's attorney to Sheriff Jud Smith requesting an investigation into alleged irregularities within the Barrow County Tax Commissioners Office.

The elected Tax Commissioner in Barrow Country is Melinda Williams.

A copy of the letter was included in the agenda and said, in part: "Because the Tax Commissioner is an independent, elected official of Barrow County, the County does not have general oversight or authority over the Tax Commissioner. Accordingly, the County has not conducted an investigation or otherwise taken any action to date with respect to these allegations."

The allegations mentioned in the letter are as follows: "it has been brought to our attention that a verbal contract with a service provider has been in effect for years that may result in a financial benefit to the Tax Commissioner's husband and that the Tax Commissioner may have provided a private office for her husband within the County offices."

Dowling said, "The Commission approved me, as County Manager, to sign a letter...to Sheriff Smith, requesting him to begin an investigation of the Tax Commissioner's Office in general, and Melinda Williams, the Tax Commissioner, in particular, about the operations of her office."

Sheriff Smith has said he would turn the matter over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "He has explained," Dowling said of Sheriff Smith, "that he would turn this over to the (GBI), but the time frames are up to him."

Williams was not at the Commission meeting although Dowling said she was aware of the matter.

When asked about the history of the allegations, Dowling said, "About a month ago it came to our attention. Some disgruntled citizens and/or employees...called the Barrow Journal to tell them their observations."

"It was then brought to our attention, and some facts were learned that were alarming," Dowling said.
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