05/25/07 — Hundreds still owe county for taxes

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Hundreds still owe county for taxes

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 25, 2007 1:45 PM

Wayne County's 2006 delinquent real estate tax listing hits the streets today and inside its 36 pages are the names of hundreds of residents and businesses that still owe money -- nearly six months after the Jan. 5, 2007, deadline.

Those delinquent taxes total $1,524,302 -- 3.78 percent of the slightly more than $40 million total 2006 property tax levy.

Most of those individual amounts are only in the hundreds of dollars, but several climb upwards of $2,000. They include the original tax levy, interest and advertising costs through May 31. Interest will continue to accrue each month, beginning on the first business day of the month.

Overall, though, this year's listing is fairly average, county Tax Administrator David Ward said.

"I would consider it pretty typical year in and year out," he said. "This is just about in line with last year."

Ward explained the advertising of those with outstanding tax bills is required by state statute, but he admitted it's unlikely it alone will cause the 96.22 percent of taxes already collected to swell significantly. By June 30, 2006, he explained, the county had collected only about 96.9 percent of the total 2005 property taxes owed.

"This is all driven by statute," he said. "But I don't know that it causes people come in and pay."

Rather, he explained, to collect back taxes they have a variety of tools at their disposal.

The tax department can garnish wages, and it can attach to bank accounts.

But, he added, some of the people on the list are there because the tax department might not be able to find them, they might not work anywhere or they might not have a bank account.

That, Ward continued, is where their last option could come into play -- foreclosure.

"Once your taxes for a given year become delinquent, we begin to enforce payment through the avenues available to us. That's ongoing, and I think our department has done a very good job," he said.

People whose names or businesses are on the list should contact the Wayne County Tax Department at 731-1461 or 731-1478. The department's office is located at 224 E. Walnut St.

"They can contact us, and we can tell them exactly what they need to do to pay their bills," Ward said.