After weeks of delay, Jackson County Sheriff Denny Peyman signed for receipt of the county's property tax bills Wednesday, clearing the way for them to be mailed next month, according to county Clerk Donald "Duck" Moore.
The bills normally go out by early November at the latest in most counties, but Jackson County had not been able to get this year's bills printed or mailed to property owners because Peyman had not signed a required form agreeing to collect the taxes.
Moore said he thought a story in Wednesday's Herald-Leader about the situation had influenced Peyman's decision to sign the document.
The head of the county ambulance service expressed concern in the story about not being able to pay bills on time because of the late tax collections.
In addition, Moore said, property owners were beginning to realize that the impasse could prevent them from paying property taxes in time to deduct them on their 2014 federal tax returns.
Peyman said his phone was "red hot" when he came in Wednesday morning to sign the form, Moore said.
Moore said the county will now be able to send out the bills either Dec. 1 or Dec. 15, depending on when the printing contractor can get them done.
Peyman told the newspaper Wednesday that he had not refused to sign for the tax bills, but rather he wasn't aware that the document was ready.
Peyman said Moore brought the form to his office and gave it to a woman who was working there as community service through the court system. The woman put the form on a desk and didn't make him aware of it, Peyman said.
Other than Peyman, the office has one paid employee.
"When I was aware, I signed it," Peyman said. "I know that's part of my job, and I've done it every other year."
Moore said Peyman was in the back of the room when he took the tax information to Peyman's office, gave it to a woman and asked her to give it to him. That was at least three weeks ago, Moore said.
"He was well aware of what was going on," Moore said of the sheriff. "He had everything he needed, and he knew he needed to sign."
Peyman was defeated in the Republican primary in May and will leave office at the end of the year.
He has had a string of disputes with other local officials during his controversial term.
The fiscal court accused Peyman of malfeasance in a lawsuit claiming he had failed to repay much of a $600,000 loan the county had given his office in 2011 and 2012. The court later forced Peyman to begin pooling his fee revenue with other offices — essentially taking control of his finances — and set up its own alternative county police force.
Earlier this year, Peyman made a spectacle of arresting the county judge-executive on corruption charges during a fiscal court meeting, but a prosecutor soon dismissed the charges for lack of evidence.