Concordia says liens involve third-party contractor

Published 10:20 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Alabama Department of Revenue has filed two liens against Concordia College Alabama in Selma totaling $629,322.53 for unpaid sales and local taxes.

The liens were recorded with the Dallas County Probate Office on Monday, according to Probate Judge Kim Ballard. The liens are for tax periods June 1, 2012, through May 31, 2015.

The department of revenue filed two separate liens against Concordia College Alabama. The first is for an unpaid sales tax totaling $302,228.84, and the second is for unpaid local tax totaling $327,093.69.

“The Alabama Department of Revenue certifies that the above named taxpayer is indebted to the Department of Revenue in the above amount,” the liens read. “The state claims a lien upon all property and rights to property belonging to this taxpayer.”

Concordia’s chief financial officer Dexter Jackson said Thursday the liens involve the school’s meal plans and a third-party contractor Aramark.

Jackson said he met with two ADOR officials last summer and discussed the meal plans. Jackson said he left that meeting thinking the issue had been resolved.

“”We discussed the meal plans. During the meeting, they asked about sales taxes and our third party contract,” Jackson said. “I left it at that.”

Jackson said he has talked with ADOR officials this week and the school plans to file an appeal saying Aramark is responsible for the unpaid taxes.

“We plan to continue to work with Aramark. I’m not blaming them,” Jackson said.

The company has handled Concordia’s meal plans since 2009.

Jackson said the liens would not impact the school’s mission or upcoming semester.

“The most important thing is the students,” Jackson said.

Aramark Vice President for Corporate Communications Karen Cutler issued the following statement Thursday afternoon: “We are looking into this matter and will of course cooperate with the college to get it resolved.”

ADOR would not comment specifically on the case due to confidentiality restrictions.

However, ADOR spokesman Frank Miles did provide information regarding ADOR’s process before and after a lien is filed, including how a taxpayer is made aware of money owed.

Before a lien is filed, ADOR sends the taxpayer a delinquency notice, billing letter and preliminary assessment. If those fail to yield payment, a final assessment is issued. The final assessment is entered into when a taxpayer files a return without payment or an audit resulting in a tax liability is not paid, according to the ADOR website.

After becoming final, the assessment is transferred to the Department’s Collection Services Division, which acts as an in-house collection agency for ADOR.

At that point, the tax liability has the full force of a court judgment and the department can collect the tax owed in an involuntary manner, such as placing a lien on property.

A lien is recorded to protect the state’s interest, even if the taxpayer has arranged to make payments. The taxpayer is then unable to sell or transfer property until the amount of the lien has been paid in full.

Jackson said until Wednesday, he was not aware of any liens filed against the school.

“I’ve been at the college for six years and the college has not been required to file a sales tax return,” Jackson said.

The college is currently still searching for a replacement for president the Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mendedo, who said in April he would officially resign June 30. Lloyd Probasco, chair of the Concordia’s board of regents, did not reply to an email request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The college also announced layoffs due to budget cuts. Public relations director Abby Campbell said the school would not comment on how many employees were laid off.

“A staffing reduction was made in order to balance our budget for our new fiscal year. No massive layoff took place, but reductions were made where it was deemed necessary in our budget,” Campbell said. “This process is nothing out of the ordinary for the college, but is only a result of operating within our means.”

Campbell said some employees who left were laid off but others resigned, retired of completed their contracts with the university.

CORRECTION: Concordia College Alabama officials originally confirmed that Don Jefferson, the college’s vice president for student services and athletic director was among those laid off. On Friday, the school said Jefferson in fact resigned.