First half tax collection up slightly

Published 10:14 am Friday, April 1, 2011

If the trend continues there could be more money in the county coffers by summer.

On Thursday the office of County Treasurer Stephen Burcham finished tallying up first half taxes with that collection coming in at $15.5 million, compared with $15.1 million for the first half taxes last year. This was the first time for collections on the new appraisals that are conducted every six years. The appraisal showed an increase in valuations by 10.18 percent over the triennial update that was used for the 2010 tax bills.

“Last year there was $24 million for the whole year and hopefully we will exceed that in the second half collection,” Burcham said.

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Second half taxes will be due July 15.

“As soon as we get balanced with the auditor’s office to make sure all the numbers agree, then we will turn right over and print those bills,” the treasurer said.

Burcham is hoping the second half collection will exceed $9 million. Property owners can start setting up a payment plan to pay the second half if that is needed.

“Anyone who is concerned about being able to make payments to start preparing toward the second half can take monthly installments until the time the bill is due,” he said.

Burcham cites multiple reasons for the increase in taxes this year, including an increased awareness by property owners on when taxes were due.

“When I first took office, the deadline was quite flexible as to when the due date was,” he said. “In addition to that with the reappraisal going on people were paying a lot of attention to their tax bills. With all the things going on about property taxes locally, people are very aware of when the deadline was.”

This year there were bills sent out on 55,000 parcels with approximately 74.55 percent of tax revenue going to county school districts; 8.80 percent to the county; 5.64 percent to the townships; 3.19 percent to municipalities; and 7 percent to the DD school district.

Right now 300 property owners have sent in written protests on the recent evaluations. The next step is for the appraisal company to re-evaluate those parcels.

“The appraisers will go out and see if any mistakes have been made,” County Auditor Jason Stephens said. “They may come back with a settlement offer. If (the property owner) is OK, you make the corrections.”

If not, the board of revision, made up of county auditor, county treasurer and county commissioner, will meet.

“Any adjustment is made on the second half tax bill,” Stephens said. “With 55,000 parcels there is the possibility a mistake has been made. This is to make it right.”