Walker County Revenue Commission Jerry Guthrie announced Tuesday his office will not only remain closed for now but that the phones will only be answered by voice message and that some employees are working from home.
Guthrie and Probate Judge A. Lee Tucker closed their offices to the public days before the Walker County Commission voted last week to close county offices and the Walker County Courthouse to the public due the COVID-19 pandemic. However, people were still allowed at that time to talk directly to Guthrie and his employees with questions.
He said Monday that people calling will now be prompted by a voice message that will prompt the caller on what action to take for paying taxes. People will be allowed to use email and they can get responses that way.
The reason for that is lies in the fact that some revenue officials are working remotely from home, while a small group of clerical employees are also working every day inside the office, he said.
“We just can’t answer the phone because we’ve got to keep this clerical caught up,” he said.
“We’re closed to the public,” Guthrie said. “The courthouse is locked. I have to use a swipe card to even come in, which the public can’t do. We’re closed to the public, but I’ve got clerical working. We’ve got to keep clerical up or we’ll never make tax season.”
According to a release issued Tuesday on Guthrie’s behalf by the Walker County Commission, all questions are also answered online and people can pay delinquent property taxes at www.walkercountyrevenue.com or by U.S. Mail, using certified check or a money order. Personal and business checks will not be accepted. One can also find the amount owed on the website.
Payments may be mailed to Walker County Revenue Commission, 1803 3rd Ave. Ste 102, Jasper, AL 35501.
The two phone numbers where callers can hear pre-recorded instructions are 205-384-7267 for collections and 205-384-7265 for the assessor division. Both numbers are in the phone book, and are the two phone numbers getting the most calls, Guthrie said.
For redemptions of property sold in Tax Sale please email to email@example.com for further instruction.m For all other property tax information one may go to www.walkercountyrevenue.com or www.walkercountymaps.com.
Guthrie added that he feels comfortable with working at the courthouse now that the office is closed to walk-ins. “They’ve done a good job keeping the building clean and disinfected and all,” he said. “The maintenance, I think they’ve done a great job. You can smell it. It’s clean when you come in.”
As for as web traffic, Guthrie said Tuesday it has picked up over the previous two days.
“It was really slow. We were disappointed, but it is starting to pick up,” he said, noting that the office also sent out special courtesy notices to delinquent taxpayers. “We went above and beyond because of this virus to try and make people aware these taxes are not paid, and hunting new owners who might have bought it outside the time frame. We just mailed all those out just before we shut down the office.”
The notices also warn about the seriousness of the delinquency and what to do to rectify the situation. He said it cost “quite a bit in postage” but it will be worth it to eliminate property from the tax sale that has now been rescheduled for June 16 - a date that is still of concern in light of the lingering spread of the coronavirus.
“I’m real concerned if we’re going to make it in June. We’ll know as we get toward the end of April, because we’re going to have to advertise that thing 30 days in advance,” he said. “We have a few weeks to watch.”
At the same time, Guthrie is looking forward to more normal operations in his office.
"We hope to be reopened by May 4th, if not sooner,” Guthrie said in the release. “We encourage everyone to use the online resources in hopes everyone will stay well and stay safe during this difficult time.”