Who gets the dollars first?

Published 10:12 am Friday, September 16, 2011

A property owner who can’t pay his taxes can go to the treasurer’s office and set up a payment plan where a specified amount is deducted automatically from his bank account to the county’s checking account.

If that property owner is also significantly behind in certain utility bills, that delinquency can be attached to the tax bill and become part of the payment plan. Certain back utility bills can also be set up solely on a contract through the treasurer’s office.

But getting that money when the utility bills are combined with property taxes has become a concern for those running the Union-Rome Sewer district. Right now the district is facing delinquent bills totaling $325,000.

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“Where we put it on the taxes, most go on payment plan and that plan can be for five to 10 years,” Tim Porter of the sewer district said.

Twice a year the county collects taxes through the treasurer’s office. After the treasurer and auditor reconcile the collection, the auditor then distributes the taxes to the school districts, villages, townships and county funds.

Approximately 80 to 85 percent of the collections goes to education with the remainder to villages and townships.

Whatever is collected on a payment plan if it is fully collected, all delinquencies will be discharged. However, if not all the delinquency is collected all money received would go first to pay off the property tax obligation.

“For a lot of people in the Rome (area) they keep current on their property taxes and are delinquent on their sewer,” County Treasurer Stephen Burcham said. “And everything I collect on contract goes on their sewer bill.”

Also any entity that receives county taxes can get its money earlier than the normal distribution time, or at least part of it, according to the treasurer.

“They can request an advance on their collections at any time,” Burcham said. “Simply write to the auditor’s office. Under the Ohio law, they can request an advance up to 75 percent of their collections.”

However, that is a practice not often followed.

“Most of them won’t do it, if they don’t need the money,” Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said. “It is more of a bookkeeping entry and try not to do it.”

Advances can only be made on amounts that have been collected, but not yet distributed.