Guilford County doesn’t play nice with people who take a long time to pay their overdue property taxes, and that was in evidence during an action by the Board of Commissioners at its Thursday, Jan. 21 meeting.

That night, the board bumped up pay to a legal firm that’s been hired to initiate foreclosures on people who haven’t paid their Guilford County property taxes.

About ten years ago, Guilford County had a tremendous backlog of foreclosures, but, in recent years, the county Tax Department – in conjunction with the county Attorney’s Office – has been very aggressive in pushing foreclosures as the final solution when taxes aren’t paid and every other collection method has been exhausted.

Guilford County had already renewed a contract with the firm late last year, but on January 21 the board added $89,000 “to ensure sufficient funds are available for the contract with Mark D. Bardill P.C, dba Zaccheus Legal Services (ZLS) to provide property tax collection services.”

The annual contracts for foreclosure help generally come in at about $300,000. This $89,000 supplements other money allocated in the current 2020-2021 budget.

Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne stated in an email that the county needs the help for now.

“The contract with ZLS is actually a renewal of an existing contractual arrangement, so he will be continuing the same work as before and we will continue the work we are doing in-house.”

Payne added that, ultimately, Guilford County is working toward having all foreclosures conducted by county staff.

“There will come a time when we can bring all the work in-house but we are not there yet,” Payne said.

Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis said that the county makes all attempts to collect taxes in other ways before coming down with this large hammer in order to collect the money owed.