Morgan County to use reserve to pay $1 million owed to Decatur and Hartselle school systems

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - The Morgan County Commission owes two local school systems nearly $1 million because of what Chairman Ray Long called a "software glitch" related to sales tax distribution.

"$800,000 roughly that we owe Decatur City School System. Close to $300,000 is what we owe Hartselle School System and now Morgan County School System was overpaid nearly $400,000," says Long.

Morgan County has a 3% sales tax. Long says the municipalities get 2% and the school systems get the other 1%. The county sales tax department switched to a new software system a little more than a year ago, and the new system did not accurately calculate how much of the money should be going to Hartselle and Decatur school systems.

According to Long, Morgan County Schools and some other governmental entities, including municipalities and volunteer fire departments, were overpaid.

"It's our place to collect it and distribute it and that software messed up. We've still got the money but it's in the wrong hands, so we're going to collect it and get it in the right hands," says Long.

Long says the county wouldn't have caught the glitch without help from the school systems. Bradley Colburn, Hartselle City Schools Chief Financial Officer was the first to realize something was wrong with the sales tax distributions.

"We didn't really know how much was missing, we just knew there was a trend going down of our sales tax," says Colburn.

Long said the commission looked at how its software was calculating distribution tax and realized there was a mistake. Long also says the commission will be paying the schools out of its three million dollar reserve fund.

"We don't feel like it's proper for us to wait to collect all this to pay the school systems. We want to get it to them as soon as we can," says Long.

State examiners will also audit the county commission before any checks are cut.

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