‘Just improper’: former state rep calls for end to Georgia’s fee system

Q & A with former Sandy Springs Rep. Wendell Willard, a long time opponent of the collection of fees by tax commissioners from cities to collect their taxes. Willard argues that Georgia tax commissioners should be barred from personally collecting fees from cities that contract with counties to collect their taxes.

Former Sandy Springs state legislator Wendell Willard authored legislation in 2007 to regulate Georgia’s laws allowing county tax officials to charge and collect fees for collecting city taxes in their jurisdictions. Willard spoke to AJC reporters on July 1. Watch a video of this interview above.

Q:How did you first find out about the fee system?

A: I was appointed the city attorney of Sandy Springs by the city council and mayor, and in doing those services, we had a contract come in from the tax commissioner for Fulton County. He was asserting that to be able to collect the taxes for the city of Sandy Springs, he would have to receive an extra fee of $1 per parcel with the city. We had about 26,000 parcels. That was a substantial payment.

Wendell Willard, R - Sandy Springs, retired from the General Assembly in 2018. He also served as city attorney for Sandy Springs. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Wendell Willard, R - Sandy Springs, retired from the General Assembly in 2018. He also served as city attorney for Sandy Springs. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Q:Why do you think the current fee system is a problem?

A: You have the tax commissioner requiring a personal fee for his services as an elected official. I think that's just improper, and I don't think that was ever the intent.

Q:What is your response to commissioners who claim that fees are necessary due to liability issues?

A: There is no additional liability. If they make a mistake, for the most part those mistakes can all be corrected.

Q:How do you think the Legislature should change the current system?

A: I think one general law would change it. Somebody suggested there may need to be a constitutional amendment. I don't see a need for an amendment because the General Assembly has the authorization to direct what would be the duties of any elected official.

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