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By Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday night due to the Easter holiday and heard from a White Oak resident regarding issues with the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles vehicle tax. 

Barbara Tatum addressed the board and stated she lives on Live Oak Methodist Church Road in White Oak. She told the board that when she went to purchase her vehicle tag she learned she was being charged taxes in the town of Elizabethtown. Tatum said she does not reside in Elizabethtown and does not have an Elizabethtown address. 

“We’ve had a problem for about two years. Every time that we purchase a vehicle we’re being charged Elizabethtown tax,” said Tatum. 

She said this past week her son-in-law went to Fayetteville to pick up tags and he paid $65 in taxes to Elizabethtown. They do not reside in Elizabethtown. Tatum said she has been told that he must pay the tax or he cannot receive the tag.

Tatum explained to the board that in order to correct the error, one must get out of the line to purchase your vehicle tag at the DMV office and go to the tax office and have the staff there to correct the error. Tatum said once the tax office staff makes the correction to the entry, one must then return to the DMV office to complete the purchase the tag. Tatum said this occurs each time her family purchases a vehicle or vehicle tags. 

“If you don’t request the tax, you don’t get it back. This has been going on for two years. DMV blames the county. The county blames the DMV,” said Tatum. 

 She told the board she had met with County Manager Greg Martin regarding the matter in January but it still has not been corrected. Tatum said she has been told that DMV cannot remove the incorrect taxes from the tag and it must handled by the tax office. 

Tatum said in the tax office, the personal have to make a change to the address on Tatum’s bill each time to remove the incorrect tax charges.

Bladen County Commissioner Chairman Ray Britt apologized to Tatum for the inconvenience and asked Martin what he has learned regarding the matter. 

“It is an ongoing concern and an issue,” said Martin.

He said county staff have already prepared a presentation for the board regarding the matter for the April 16th meeting. 

“The issue has to do with the address not being entered exactly like the 911 address. If there is a deviation then it (the address) is not recognized and it automatically sites it in the highest tax district in the county which is Elizabethtown,” said Martin. 

He explained, for example, a property could be located on Live Oak Methodist Church Road and it will locate that property in Elizabethtown if it does not recognize the address. 

Martin showed the board a three page listing of vehicle taxes which are not correct. He explained that when the tax office learns of a deviation, they enter the information onto an “A List” to correct the matter. 

Martin said that, according to the staff in the tax office, Live Oak Church Road has about 12 deviations and other roads in the county which have similar situations include Hickory Grove Ball Park Road and Mercer Mill-Brown Marsh Road. 

He explained that if an address is entered using abbreviations or other methods which the system does not recognize, it causes the issue to occur. Martin said it is his understanding the address must be entered exactly like the 911 address. 

Martin said the mistakes with the addresses could be occurring at the dealership when the purchase is made, it could be occurring when the address is keyed in at the DMV office or it could be made at other times. 

Martin told the board there will be a presentation on the matter at the April 16th meeting. 

In other business:

*The Commissioners voted to appoint Stephanie Ensminger to the White Lake Planning and Zoning Advisory Committee.

*The board tabled a decision on a service agreement for storm debris removal in the Black River.

*The board scheduled two meetings on the 2018-19 budget for April 18 at 4 p.m. and April 30 at 4 p.m.

*The Commissioners scheduled a special meeting for the Board of Equalization and Review to review the roles and responsibilities of the board for April 16 at 5:30 p.m.

*The board voted to waive the solid waste feels for Alvin Butler.