RICHMOND — After more than 40 days of circulating petitions in hopes to halt the proposed 11-cent property tax increase, Madison County Clerk Kenny Barger counted 6,479 petitions turned in as of Tuesday afternoon.

It was all silence in the courtroom of the county courthouse except for the shuffling of hands and thousands of pieces of paper as the clerk and his staff counted petitions, which were turned in three days ahead of the cutoff deadline.

The petition against the proposed property tax increase was filed in September by a group of five citizens in the hopes to stop the tax increase, which was approved by the fiscal court last month in the hopes to help fund a $45 million jail facility.

Since then, the group has been circulating petitions, knocking on doors and having signings in public places in attempts to acquire the necessary 3,780 signatures needed to stop the increase and have it placed on the November 2020 ballot.

According to Mary Renfro, a petition group member, the five collected 6,507 petitions, which Barger sifted through on Tuesday. His office counted just under that number, arriving at 6,479, which the group accepted.

From here, Barger said, his office will have 30 days to certify the signatures with voter registration scrolls in order to determine if the proposed tax in question will be placed on the November 2020 election ballot.

Barger told The Register it is unknown how long it will take to verify the signatures, as this is the first recall petition to be filed.

“(The count) will be done a lot sooner than 30 days,” Barger told the group after the count was finished. “By statute, I have to notify you immediately as soon as we know if the signatures are verified or not. So if it is 3 a.m. and I know, I am going to be giving you a call." This brought a laugh from an anxious room.

Renfro said she's relieved to have the process over with.

“I am so happy, it has been a huge ordeal,” she said.

“Now the fun part starts,” Barger laughed.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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