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Chimney Square drive-thru only for tax office matters

Most county offices located in Chimney Square in Picayune are closed, leading to confusion about what services are offered in the facility’s drive-thru.
Pearl River County Chancery Clerk Melinda Bowman said that tax office staff, which is operating a drive-thru during the COVID-19 shelter in place order, have seen a surge of people attempting to conduct other county business through that window.
In an attempt to alert those people that only tax office matters can be handled through the drive-thru, Bowman said she had temporary signs made up and placed at the drive-thru entrance. Those signs include phone numbers county residents can use to get things done through her office, such as paying child support or delinquent taxes.
While it might seem logical that delinquent taxes should be paid at the tax office, Bowman said that state law mandates back taxes be paid through that respective county’s chancery court office because interest is levied against a delinquent account once it is sold at a tax sale.
Those accounts only go to her office after a respective property tax has been sold at a tax sale. Once a person or company pays the back taxes on a piece of property in that tax sale, a 1.5 percent interest is accrued each month.
For example, if a property owner has not paid their 2019 taxes by the Friday before the first Monday of August, it will go up for tax sale on that Monday.
The initial property owner has two years after that date to pay the back taxes to maintain ownership of that property.
But if any interest has been accrued, the property owner is responsible for that expense as well.
Once the back taxes and interest is paid, the person or company that paid the back taxes during tax sale is reimbursed, plus the interest.
Bowman said that tax sales are held to ensure that the county has the funds it needs to continue to provide services to the public.
While Bowman suggests paying back taxes via phone or through the mail, her staff has established a window at the front of the County Courthouse in Poplarville where payments can be made.
Additionally, lawyers and property title researchers have access to the physical copies, but Bowman said she limits the number of people in the file vault to five people.
Marriage licenses are currently not being issued as well. Circuit Clerk Nance Stokes said Circuit Court proceedings are still taking place, but through video conferencing.
Any court matter that would require a jury trial is on hold until social distancing requirements are no longer needed, Stokes said.
Circuit Court Staff are still in the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can help residents who need to conduct business in person, but staff will meet those individuals outside the building.