If all the delinquent property tax payers for 2014 paid up tomorrow, the county could fix 42 miles of gravel roads.
That’s a lot of gravel.
That’s also a lot of delinquent taxes, $336,558.06, a five-percent increase over the $320,803 owed for 2013.
Treasurer Jeannine Bateman found the number encouraging, however, because 98 percent of real estate taxes due were collected.
“A two percent delinquency rate on real estate? That’s not bad,” she said.
The total amount of real estate and personal property taxes the county could have collected for 2014 was $18,944,154, Bateman said. That was three percent higher than 2013, but the uncollected real estate tax amount was five percent higher.
Does that mean more people were delinquent?
“Until I run the final stuff and come up with the final numbers, I won’t know for sure,” Bateman said.
The list of delinquent taxpayers can found elsewhere in this issue. Bateman doesn’t expect a sudden rush of people eager to pay just because their names have been published. She’s sent tax bills and delinquent letters, but said some people will still be surprised to see their name in print.
“It shouldn’t be a shock to them, but it is,” she said.
In order to clear their bill, delinquent taxpayers must pay the tax due, accrued interest, and a $16 publication fee set by state statute.
The system of billing and paying property taxes twice a year originated “when agriculture ruled,” Bateman said. Farmers had money at harvest time to pay their entire bill.
That system doesn’t work for people who can’t afford lump sum payments, so Bateman said her office creates plans for those who can’t pay the total due.
“We try to get people to have a goal as to when it will be paid off, or what they can pay each month,” she said. “The county does not want to own anybody’s property.”