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Sisk, Witt keynote Farragut GOP meeting

With an eye on extra tax dollars for Knox County Schools, Fred Sisk said the Knox County Trustees office is getting tough on delinquent taxpayers.

Sisk, recently appointed trustee among the winter wave of term limit ruling beneficiaries, joined fellow appointee Sherry Witt, register of deeds, to speak to Farragut Repub-lican Club during its monthly meeting, Thursday evening, April 12, at the Farragut Gondolier restaurant location.

Coupled with technology advances within the office — both realized and anticipated that Sisk said will result in more county dollars — the ultimate winner was declared to be “on-time” Knox County taxpayers.

To the 100 most delinquent taxpayers, Sisk said notices were mailed April 11 “that they’ve got to get this cleared up or we’re selling their property. Hopefully we’re going to bring in quite a bit of money, once again, to help county commission get through this year without increasing taxes.”

Sisk said he would “take credit for” a new, tougher stance on delinquent payments enacted earlier this month: summons are now issued for those tardy on their taxes for more than one year. “This year we’ve sent out ninety-five hundred summons,” Sisk said. “Needless to say the phones have rang off the hook.”

Saying Knox County has a budget “approximately” $550 to $570 million, Sisk added that following Knox County Commission action, “Knox County increased the [property tax] penalty from ten to twenty percent.

“This money is earmarked for schools, the schools need every dime they can get,” Sisk added, pointing to a schools system budget “over” $330 million. “So far we’ve raised approximately six hundred thousand dollars with that.

“Hopefully, over the course of the year, that’s probably going to bring in around three hundred thousand dollars that’s just earmarked for education.”

Through technology advances, “We’re going to end up making Knox County an additional, probably twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars interest earned,” Sisk said.

The trustee said the state legislature is on the verge of finalizing a senior citizens property tax limit law passed on referendum “overwhelmingly” last November. “They’re arguing about setting the [income limit] to fifty-thousand or sixty-thousand dollars,” Sisk said. “It’s going to freeze the property tax at the tax due, or tax paid, at the limit it is right now. ... Five and ten years down the road [the savings] will be quite substantial.”

Witt said a “perfectly legal” marketing company mailing out offers to supply a certified copy of your deed for around $59 has targeted homebuyers “within the last two years. This service is provided for you in the register’s office for a dollar a page. We started getting a few calls, especially from seniors.

“We tried to get on it as quickly as we could, get press releases all across the county,” Witt added. “Call other registers in other counties. They hadn’t heard anything about it. I don’t know why they targeted Knoxville, or if they targeted other major cities.”

Sisk recalled 17 years in the trustees’ office leading to his January appointment. “We’re very fortunate that things turned out the way they did,” he said. “Term limits kinda surprised everybody. I was very thankful we got appointed January thirty-first.”

Witt added the term limit transition “was a very tough time for all of Knox County. ... The commission was given a tough job, they were told exactly how to do this. ... I applaud them, I think they did a wonderful job.

“I know there’s been a lot of media attention toward this, [saying] ‘we should have done it this way’ — well, that’s not what the [Tennessee] Supreme Court said,” added Witt, a lifelong Knox County resident who’s been working in the register of deeds office for 22-plus years.

“They were very specific about how to do it.”

Witt graduated from UT in 1982 with a degree in human services.


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