08/10/09 — Tax notices to be in the mail soon

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Tax notices to be in the mail soon

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 10, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County will mail out more than 70,000 property tax notices within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, through June 30, tax collections for last year stand at 97.18 percent, down just slightly from the previous year.

"We feel like it is good, especially the way the economy is," Wayne County Tax Administrator David Ward said. "We are down just a little from last year when it was 97.32 at the same time. We felt like we have done a pretty good job to hit what we have hit.

"On the actual 2009 billing we are working towards that. Hopefully we will get those bills out within the next couple of weeks."

That means taxpayers can expect the bills by the end of August or the first week of September at the latest.

The bills are technically due Sept. 1, but taxpayers have until Jan. 5 to pay them before the interest is added.

Unlike some counties, Wayne does not offer a discount for early payment.

The county collects taxes for all of the municipalities save for Walnut Creek.

The tax rates per $100 worth of property are:

*Wayne County, 76.4 cents

*Goldsboro, 65 cents

*Mount Olive, 59 cents

*Fremont, 65 cents

*Eureka, 66 cents

*Pikeville, 60 cents

*Seven Springs, 54 cents

*Walnut Creek, 36 cents.

Not unexpectedly, the vehicle tax collection lags behind the property tax collection.

Through June 30 roughly 85.5 percent had been collected, about 12 percent behind property tax collections.

"It always is," said Alan Lumpkin, assistant tax administrator.

It isn't so much a case of the county losing the tax money as it is the payments being deferred, he said.

Ward said he does not have any figures on the amount involved.

"We continue to pursue delinquent taxes and we try to collect those delinquent bills also," he said.

Once the payments are delinquent, the county can place a block on a person renewing their vehicle tags until the tax is paid.

"What is unique is that most people have to pay these taxes before they get their tags next time," Lumpkin said. "They get blocked. A year into it, it (the vehicle tax collection rate) gets back up to the 95 percentile.

"A lot of people wait to pay their (vehicle) taxes when they need their tags. It (collection rate) is low, but it will jump back up around 95 percent. Once that one-year lag time goes by they get paid because they are blocked and can't renew their tags."

A new law that is scheduled to go into effect in 2011 would change the process for paying vehicle taxes.

"Everything is on track ," Lumpkin said. "As far as we know nothing has changed and the state is working on software conversion to put it in place.

"The new bill hopefully will rectify it because you will pay your taxes before you get your tags, not after," Lumpkin said. "Once they get their tags (now) we are limited in what we can do to chase them down before they get their tags again."

"You will get the bill when you get your renewal slip and you will pay taxes prior to or during getting your tags," Ward said of the new law. "So theoretically we should have a 100 percent collection rate."

Along with preparing the tax bills for mailing, preliminary work is under way on the county's 2011 revaluation.

"We are cranking up and getting things in place," Lumpkin said. "By fall we will be pretty heavy in it and then through the next year. By the start of 2011 we will send values out."

It is too early to predict how the values will change, Ward said.

"I don't think we can predict until we get further into it because it depends on what happens through not only the rest of this year, but also through 2010 -- what is happening with properties, what they are selling for, what values are holding at and that type of thing."

"We have tracked sales all during the year," Lumpkin said.

People, he said, need to remember that the values in place are those established during the 2003 revaluation.

"What we have seen, what sales I have seen, our market has held pretty good through all of this (recession)," he said. "I am not saying it is as good as it was back in the '90s. I haven't seen a lot of slippage in the values. Stuff is slower to sale and is on the market longer, but it is hard to estimate what is going to happen.

"I agree with David that it is going to depend a lot on the rest of this year and next year. What the market does then is what dictates where our values end up."