County mistakenly sends property tax bills to owners instead of lenders

Customers wanting to pay their property tax bills inundate the Yavapai County Treasurer’s Office Wednesday, Oct. 3, after receiving bills Monday that indicated a payment due date of Oct. 1. (Sue Tone/Courier)

Customers wanting to pay their property tax bills inundate the Yavapai County Treasurer’s Office Wednesday, Oct. 3, after receiving bills Monday that indicated a payment due date of Oct. 1. (Sue Tone/Courier)

Monday, Oct. 1, the day most property owners in the county received their tax notices in the mail, the Yavapai County Treasurer’s Office started filling up with people, checkbooks in hand.

Others, whose taxes are included in their monthly mortgage statements, were calling to find out if they needed to pay the bill.

“As soon as the bills were sent out, it got a little crazy around here,” said Yavapai County Treasurer Ross Jacobs, acknowledging that the statements were mailed later than usual and also that the county mistakenly sent notices to individuals who pay property tax through their lender.

About 21 percent of property owners pay their tax bills through their lender or a third party, Ross said, and the county usually sends notices directly to mortgage lenders.

Some counties send tax notices to every property owner, whether they pay the bill themselves or it goes through their mortgage company.

Yavapai County does not.

For one thing, not doing so saves money. For another, it decreases the chance of confusing people who send in a duplicate payment resulting in the county having to issue refunds.

Taxpayer Martin Clever, 53, stopped in on Wednesday, Oct. 3, bill in hand, because he had never received or seen a tax notice before; his mortgage company takes care of it.

He also said he had other questions, and didn’t mind coming in to speak with someone.

So what happened?

Recently the county introduced a new system that’s “been a challenge,” Ross said. The system read the parcel numbers on file, but did not “suppress” the bills that go to mortgage companies causing bills to go to every property owner — 171,720 notices.

About 36,000 should not have gone to the taxpayers with impounds on their loans. At a cost of 47 cents to print and mail the notices, this mistake cost $16,920, Ross said.

The old antiquated system first was replaced because of the Y2K concerns as 2000 rolled around. But a new one was needed that could deliver the many services the Treasurer’s Office provides in addition to handling property taxes, and there aren’t many companies that offer such systems, Ross said.

Out of two choices, he selected a program developed in Pinal County. Three other counties will join in a cooperative that will save on future expenses. The Pinal County system was free, Ross said; the other one would have cost $750,000 to $1 million initially, plus $80,000 per year.

Glitches and some miscalculations put the office behind in printing and mailing out the notices the first or second week of September.

“This year was a learning experience,” Ross said, “and next year we’ll do better.”

Customer service

The greater-than-usual number of people arriving in person to pay their bill creates a larger workload over a shorter period of time for employees, he said.

Nevertheless, those at the front counter were accepting payments quickly and efficiently with a friendly comment for everyone.

County property taxes are due Oct. 1, and are considered delinquent after Nov. 1. For those who pay their taxes in two installments, the second half is due March 1, 2019, and delinquent after May 1.

Tax bills: timeline

The timeline for sending out property tax notices begins the third Monday in August when the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors approves the tax rates.

The Treasurer’s Office double-checks the calculations, and sends the notices to the printer which mails out the notices.

If the county misses the print date as happened this year, the job goes to the back of the line, said Yavapai County Treasurer Ross Jacobs, and taxpayers receive their notices late — in this case, Oct. 1, instead of the second week in September.

The notices state the bill is due Oct. 1 and delinquent if paid after Nov. 1, giving taxpayers about three weeks to make their payment.

If you are one of the property owners who mistakenly received a tax bill, and normally pay through your lender or a third party, disregard the bill, Jacobs said. Those other parties have been notified

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tbabbitt 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Shape up or ship out debtors. The crash is coming and you've used up all our good will.

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