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Porterdale looks to divide tax due dates

PORTERDALE -- The City Council unanimously approved the first and second readings of an ordinance Monday night that would provide for two billing installments for city property tax bills.

The ordinance, which will have a third reading at the council's next regular meeting on Oct. 4, calls for taxpayers to receive one tax bill that could be paid in two installments or in one lump sum. Bills would be sent out on July 1 of each year or as soon as is practical after that date. Taxpayers could pay half of the amount due within 60 days of the billing date and the remaining balance by Dec. 20.

City Council members have spoken in favor of the ordinance change in the past because two installments would make payments easier for city residents and would improve the city's cash flow.

In other business, the council voted 4-1 to approve a resolution to withdraw a proposed agreement with Friends of Porterdale for collection of donations to the Community Assistance Relief Effort. Councilwoman Linda Finger, who spearheaded the CARE program, cast the dissenting vote.

The council had unanimously agreed at its Aug. 2 meeting to enter an agreement with the nonprofit Friends of Porterdale to distribute funds collected for CARE. The plan was to allow residents to contribute to CARE through their city water bills, with Friends of Porterdale disbursing the funds on a monthly basis.

However, two days after the meeting Councilman Robert Foxworth called the Georgia Municipal Association to make inquiries about the legality of collecting charitable funds on the water bills and learned that collecting those funds through the city water bills would not be legal. City attorney Tim Chambers also subsequently told the council that it could not allow nonprofit groups to use city property for fundraising efforts.

Following Monday night's vote to withdraw the agreement, Councilman Lowell Chambers said he wanted the record to show that the council would make every effort to "move to a technically legal way to accomplish the same purpose."

"I'll agree with that," Foxworth said.

Finger had previously accused Foxworth of trying to undermine the CARE program because of a vendetta she said he has against her. Foxworth said he supports CARE but wanted to make sure the city was on solid legal footing, which prompted his inquiries at GMA.