Error means refunds could be owed to Orange County builders

Every time someone builds a business in Orange County, they pay the county a fee to help them get customers to that business.

“These fees go to pay for building new roads, widening existing roads, putting up traffic signals,” explained Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond.

The comptroller says things have been going wrong and the county isn't getting that money. “We did find a number of errors. We found some things that made us say we need to improve the system,” he said.

Diamond said errors were to the tune of nearly $400,000 between 2015 and 2017. If the businesses don't pony-up the cash, it's got to come from somewhere. “That somewhere else could be anything,” Diamond said, “it could be money from gas taxes, it could be money you pay in property taxes!”

Diamond said among the ways to make things better, they need to upgrade their software and train county assessors better. The audit report says a Dunkin Donuts on Sand Lake Road, for example, wasn't paying enough fees to the county because the assessors missed the fact that it has a drive-through. The same goes for a Popeye's on McCoy Road. Because the assessors didn't note that it has a drive-through, the county missed out on thousands of dollars in fees.

Diamond said in November they'll present a plan to commissioners outlining a way to refund overpayments and collect the difference from anyone who underpaid. Orange County says they appreciate the findings and agree with the recommendations.

“I think everybody wants to make sure that these fees are done correctly,” Diamond said.