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Our thoughts... The letter of the law
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Just because you’re allowed to do something doesn’t mean you should.

Our Newton County government has failed to refund one of our top industries, Bridgestone Golf, $83,000 that Bridgestone overpaid in taxes in 2006 and 2007.

Bridgestone asked for its money back more than a year ago, Nov. 7, 2009. The county said the error was made by Bridgestone employees and, upon legal advice, agreed to let the request for the refund lapse, according to our report on Wednesday. A county attorney said that Bridgestone had a year to file an appeal to the Newton County Superior Court.

Bridgestone asked to have the over-payment applied to its 2009 taxes. The city of Covington in October agreed to reimburse the business for its overpaid taxes, and paid them in November.

Covington Mayor Kim Carter said that it was the right thing to do, and we agree.

We’re puzzled by how the county seems to think otherwise, that they should keep money that ended up in their coffers through a clerical error. What would Chairman Kathy Morgan think if she found out after a trip to the grocery store that she had been overcharged, went back to the store to seek a refund, only to be told that it was too late, that she had already paid for the item?

That’s no way to run a business, and make no mistake, county government is a business. What sort of signals does such a petty move send to industries considering locating here? And what will Bridgestone say about its experience in dealing with Newton County when asked by other industries?