Only county employees will be allowed in the Tallapoosa County Courthouse in Dadeville and the Courthouse Annex in Alexander City until further notice.

Tallapoosa County administrator Blake Beck said the courthouses will be closed starting today.

“In consultation with the chairman of the commission (Steve Robinson) and others, it has been decided to close the Tallapoosa County courthouses to the public until further notice,” Beck said. “County employees will still come to work as usual.”

Many county employees have children. Beck said the federal government passed legislation last week with extra provisions related to the coronavirus but no details have been provided about what can be done.

“Absences will be covered under current policy with regard to leave,” Beck said. “The law passed last week that has provisions related to COVID-19 illnesses and employee absences related to the illness itself as well as lost child care. The U.S. Department of Labor is expected to provide guidance related to the new law by April 2. Initial review appears to suggest that it largely fits under our existing policy related to (the Family and Medical Leave Act.) Once we have guidance from the federal government, I will follow up with official guidance as to implementation.”

The closure alters how citizens take care of automobile tag renewals, payment of property taxes, boat licenses and even real estate closings. Between state agencies and local officials, deadlines related to those issues have been extended or accommodations made.

“We are working on dropbox for the front of the courthouse for recording deeds,” East said. “We are encouraging those who can to pay for tag renewals and such online. If they don’t have a computer, we will take payments over the phone. We will go through an identification process. Over the phone is just during the state of emergency.”

East said those paying online or over the phone for tag renewals will have to pay a $2 mail fee to cover the cost of postage. To avoid the mail fee, tag renewals have been extended to April 15 without penalty. New cars can be driven on the bill of sale for 20 days. Boat tag, hunting and fishing licenses can be renewed online at www.outdooralabama.com. One-time drivers license renewals can be done online at www.alea.gov.

East said arrangements were made to allow title searches for real estate closings.

“Those are done in person,” East said. “We deal with most in the area that do them. They can come. They have to make an appointment for up to two hours and no more than two of them in the office at one time.”

Tallapoosa County revenue commissioner Eva Middlebrooks said her office will still accept payments for property taxes online and through the dropbox being constructed in front of the courthouse in Dadeville, but she has closed the map room and appraisals in the wake of COVID-19.

“Appraisals have until Dec. 31,” Middlebrooks said. “The only necessary thing at the moment is tax collection.”

Middlebrooks has postponed the annual property tax sale. She said there was a deadline to start advertising the properties up for sale later this week and will currently delay them two weeks.

“We are going to push the sale to May 18,” Middlebrooks said. “It gives everyone who hasn’t paid an extra two weeks though interest will still accrue.”

The courthouse closures also affect the Tallapoosa County Circuit Clerk’s office. For questions residents can contact the probate judge’s office at 256-825-4266, the revenue commissioner’s office at 256-825-7818 or the clerk’s office at 256-825-1084.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.