By Paul Gable
It appears Horry County Government is using the Sean Spicer/Kellyanne Conway ‘alternative facts’ method for reporting how Horry County missed billing property taxes on some new car purchases over the last four years.
According to a story reported in MyHorryNews.com earlier today, Horry County failed to process digital records on 4,444 vehicles purchased between 2014-2017, resulting in failure by the county to bill first year property taxes on the vehicles.
According to the story, County spokesperson Kelly Moore blamed the failure on a “technical glitch” and was quoted as saying in part, “New software programs come with a learning curve, and sometimes, unfortunately, with technical difficulties.”
Horry County Auditor Lois Eargle was quoted in the same story, “That was nothing that was fault of the auditor’s office. … It was the new software that came in.”
The Auditor’s Office is responsible for preparing property tax bills on new car purchases that do not transfer license plates from another vehicle and for entering that information into the computer system.
A letter was prepared by the Auditor’s Office to be sent to the citizens affected by this issue.
The letter, the full text of which is attached to the bottom of this story, reads in part, “We recently discovered an error in the processing system that manages vehicle property taxes. After changing software in 2014, a technical glitch did not send an initial vehicle tax bill to some taxpayers who purchased a new vehicle when they did not transfer license tags.”
The new software was purchased from QS/1 Governmental Solutions whose headquarters is located in Spartanburg, SC.
Reflecting on the story and the county’s explanation of a “technical glitch” that apparently took four years to discover, I called QS/1 Governmental Solutions for an explanation. I spoke with Perry Burnett, Government Senior Account Executive, the QS/1 employee who deals directly with Horry County Government.
After explaining who I was and the purpose of my call, I asked Burnett when the county had contacted him about a “technical glitch” with the software.
Burnett responded, “I am not aware of any contact from the county. As far as I know everything is going fine.”
I confirmed with Burnett that Horry County maintains a service contract with QS/1. He agreed that any “technical glitch” should be reported to QS/1 for service.
In addition, Burnett said QS/1 services a total of 32 counties in South Carolina with the same software and no “technical glitch” of this type was reported by any county in South Carolina.
Apparently Horry County chose to blame the problem on the QS/1 software when that really isn’t the source of the problem.
Why cover up a mistake? If we learned one thing from Nixon’s Watergate problem, it is that the cover up is worse than the crime, actually “mistake” in this case.
It would be nice in situations like this if the county would just tell the facts rather than engaging in “spin”.
Maybe this is a situation where the county chooses to follow the Rudy Giuliani axiom “Truth isn’t truth.”