Bibb County tax office finds home on Walnut Street

pramati@macon.comJune 12, 2013 

Bibb County is expected to finalize a deal Thursday to purchase the former Capital City Bank building on Walnut Street to serve as the new home for the Bibb County Tax Commissioner’s Office.

Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders has been working with county officials to find a new home for his office, which is currently in the Bibb County Courthouse. That office space will be repurposed once the consolidated Macon-Bibb County government takes over Jan. 1.

Tedders said the former bank building at 455 Walnut St. is a perfect fit for the Tax Commissioner’s Office because of its central location in downtown Macon, ample parking and basic design.

“The facility will accommodate taxpayers,” Tedders said. “We’re starting to do preliminary sketches (for remodeling). ... We have some interesting ideas. I like the idea of having a drive-thru for tax issues that aren’t complicated, like paying your garbage bill. We also want to get some service kiosk-type things.”

Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson said the county is purchasing the property for $350,000, well below its market value of about $1.3 million.

The building shouldn’t require many renovations, and bond money will be used for the purchase, he said.

Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said the move finally will allow the Tax Commissioner’s Office to move into a more modern facility that will speed up the process for the public to pay for everything from property taxes to automobile tags and business licenses.

“I think we’re finally moving into the 21st century with these services,” he said. “I think it’s extremely suited to the ... office.”

Tedders said he hopes to move into the new building as soon as possible. The tax office is getting new computers and software, and Tedders would like to have them set up at the same time to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Tedders said he hopes the move is before August, when the office starts collecting property taxes. If the office hasn’t moved by then, he likely won’t move until after Nov. 15, the deadline to pay property taxes.

Unknown is whether Tedders will keep the satellite county tag office at the Macon State Farmers Market on Eisenhower Parkway or if he will relocate that staff to the new building. Tedders said those decisions will be determined by the lease of the satellite office and what changes are made to the new building.

At one point, Tedders was considering moving the main office to an empty space at the farmers market, but that would have cost roughly $1.3 million.

Tedders said he is looking into the possibility of adding Nemo-Q software as a way of making the office more efficient for customers, the same software currently used in the Houston County Tax Commissioner’s Office.

The software would allow customers to enter into a computer what business they are conducting, and the appropriate service agent would be assigned. That would eliminate long lines at the tax office, Tedders predicts. He also hopes to add a 24-hour self-service payment kiosk.

Tedders said his staff -- many of whom work at windowless desks and in various nooks and crannies -- have been excited at the prospect of the new building.

“I think they’re already thinking of what color paint and carpet they want,” he said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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