This decision came after Aragon Mayor Ken Suffridge worked with tax attorney Joe Marion of Rome to convince the IRS of the financial burden this would place on the city.
Suffridge said the release of the lien does not eliminate the debt, however, it does remove the burden of a new year in an unenviable financial position.
Marion said he presented facts supporting Suffridge’s leadership and commitment to the citizens of Aragon.
“His approach to problem solving helped lead the IRS to reassess their position and release the levy,” Marion said.
Suffridge said a similar situation in 2012 helped him decide to meet with Marion.
On May 1, 2012, the mayor discovered Aragon was behind in its withholding tax payments to the Georgia Department of Revenue.
“We negotiated a settlement with the State, including a penalty waiver,” Suffridge said. “This saved the city $25,000.”
Suffridge said he has used his experience in governing and business to represent the citizens of Aragon.
He emphasized that, effective Jan. 1, new policies and procedures have been put in place in order to bring the city back to a better financial position in the coming years.
“It is my hope we will reduce and eliminate the chances of this ever happening again,” Suffridge said.
Last months lien against Aragon was a result of unpaid federal withholding taxes, including penalties and interest.
Suffridge called the lien an unexpected setback.
Some of the unpaid taxes date back to 2003, according to Suffridge, who took office in January 2012. He also explained that the City of Aragon has not had an official audit since 2007.
When asked why the city has not conducted an official audit in five years, Suffridge said there were several reasons. “It’s been explained to me that the lack of an audit is because of a computer crash that took place in 2008. Records were lost because of that. We also had a water pipe break, and that destroyed a bunch of records,” Suffridge said. “It is extremely hard to catch up once you get behind.”
The city’s financial issues are further complicated by the loss of thousands of dollars due to uncollected city taxes and fees. Approximately 93 percent of the city’s tax revenue comes from residential property.