Former Woodstock Mayor Bill Dewrell and his attorney Channing Ruskell late Monday dropped their request for a writ of mandamus against the county, which was filed last month in Cherokee County Superior Court and was expected to be heard by a judge Tuesday morning.
Ruskell, candidate for the Cherokee County Commission District 2 seat, said the petition was dropped after he learned the commission began the process of collecting taxes owed by Ball Ground Recycling owner Jimmy Bobo.
“I’m very happy that they are moving forward to collect the taxes and address that situation reflected in the commissioner’s memo,” Ruskell said, referring to a June 21 email exchange between County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Chief Tax Assessor John Adams.
But county commissioners said Tuesday in a statement the suit was a “frivolous and blatantly politically motivated waste of the court’s and county’s resources.”
And both the county tax assessor office’s and county tax commissioner told the Tribune on Tuesday all back taxes in question have been paid and everything was in order.
In the statement released through Commissioner Harry Johnston, the commissioners reiterated the board is not responsible for assessing and collecting taxes on real or personal property in the county.
It also said there was “never any meaningful indication of a problem with the tax assessment or collection process with regard to Bobo Grinding or its affiliates.”
In the June 21 email sent by Ahrens two days after the petition was originally filed, the commission chair asked county staff to help in tracking down property owned by Bobo and nine companies he was responsible for in Cherokee County and whether or not taxes had been paid.
Along with Ball Ground Recycling, companies that are owned or operated by Bobo include Wood-Tech, Bobo Grinding Equipment, Bobo Grinding, Georgia National Trucking, BGR Trucking, BG Land, Prime Management and Upland Development. All the companies are limited liability companies.
Ahrens also asked if county Development Services Center staff could help in determining if any of these companies had active business licenses with the county government.
Cherokee County Chief Appraiser John Adams said his staff did check tax returns filed by each of the businesses in question and performed an on-site inspection.
“Mr. Bobo was very cooperative and everything was in order,” he said, adding, “Everything seemed to be accounted for.”
Cherokee County Tax Commissioner Sonya Little said her office’s record indicate all back taxes on personal property had been paid.
Carolyn Cosby of the Canton Tea Party Patriots in a statement issued late Monday night said she was “pleased” by the latest development.
The request for mandamus, filed on June 19, claimed the commission allowed various corporations and companies owned by Ball Ground Recycling owner Jimmy Bobo to operate businesses on the same site he leased from the county and that commissioners have not been assessing taxes on the property.
A writ of mandamus is a court order that requires a court or government officer to perform his or her duties correctly.
Both Ruskell and Cosby have been critical of the county commission and its decision to transfer money to pay a debt after Bobo failed to make payments owed on bonds the county backed.
The county was notified last year that Bobo was no longer making payments into the escrow account, and the county was obligated to start making the payments.
The county had to make $1.2 million in payments last year and still has to pay an additional $608,171.28 this year.
In February, the commission moved $1.8 million out of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds into the general fund to cover the payments on the debt after Bobo failed to make payments owed on the bonds the county had guaranteed.
The county created the Resource Recovery Development Authority in 2006 and approved the bond rate for a maximum of $18.1 million in bonds.
The bonds were used to relocate Bobo’s company from its former location on Blalock Road near Holly Springs to its current site on Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.