09/15/11 — Tax notices delayed by outages

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Tax notices delayed by outages

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 15, 2011 1:46 PM

Wayne County tax notices that are normally in the mail by this time of year have been delayed because of storm-related power outages. About 70,000 tax bills will be sent out over the next few weeks, followed closely by the county's responses to the some 1,800 informal appeals on new property values generated by the countywide property revaluation.

"Normally we get the bills out sometime prior to Sept. 1, usually in August," said Tax Administrator David Ward. "We are going be a little late. Hopefully we will get them out by the end of September. Over the years there are probably a small handful of times that we have gotten bills out beyond August. It hasn't happened a lot, but it has happened on occasion.

"We want to remind everyone that once you get your bill you have until Jan. 5, 2012 to pay. Interest does not begin on any unpaid bills until Jan. 6, 2012. Starting on Jan. 6 the penalty is two percent and there is an additional three-fourths of a percent added the first of each following month."

Assistant Tax Administrator Alan Lumpkin said he didn't foresee the delay causing any problems since here is no discount for early payment.

"We have a few folks who come in and pay immediately," Ward said. "Overall, most folks will wait until the end of the year."

There are several payment options. People may mail in their payment, pay at the tax office on the first floor of the county courthouse annex or use a drop box located on Ormond Avenue next to the annex. Payments that are mailed in must have a U.S. postmark of no later than Jan. 5 so as not to be delinquent, Ward said. Office postal machine postmarks do not qualify, he said.

The bill also may be paid online. However, there is an additional fee associated with paying online. The county does not receive any of that fee, Ward said.

Taxpayers residing outside of a municipality will see a change in the solid waste fee that is included on the bill.

"There is a solid waste fee charged to county households," Ward said. "They (county commissioners) actually dropped that rate. It was $60 per household. They have dropped that to $45. The difference is that previously if you were contracting with a licensed hauler, that is a hauler licensed for the Wayne County landfill, and you provided us documentation of that, then we would adjust or release that fee provided you did it within certain time period. We have reduced the solid waste fee, but now everyone pays it whether you have a private hauler Jan. 1 or not."

Ward said the county received 1,800 to 1,900 informal property value appeals or about three percent of the 64,000 parcels that were appraised.

"You are going to have 'x' number of appeals every time because people associate value change with more taxes," Lumpkin said. "We have good value on property, but because they relate that value to a tax increase they are going to appeal and that is not a valid appeal, but we have to work it just like any other appeal."

The number of appeals is actually lower than 2003, Ward said.

"I would say that we are about 80 percent through with these (informal appeals)," Lumpkin said. "We have not sent any replies yet. We will wait until we finish the whole job and everybody who filed an appeal will get a reply showing whether there was a change or not and giving them instructions on how to proceed. If they are still not satisfied they can go to the board of commissioners.

"If the (tax) bills happen to go out first and we make adjustments (to the value) then we will adjust the bill after the fact. We have had several calls on that. They are concerned if they get their bill what is going to happen."

Lumpkin said he is unsure how many values have been adjusted.

"It depends on the situation," Lumpkin said. "A lot of cases where it is residential, if people provide information with an appraisal, our square footage may have been of off a little bit, there might have been a listing somewhere wrong and we cleared that up. Or it could have been a house where the exterior looked fine, but inside was demolished or had termite damage or something that we would not had known until they told us about it. Stuff like that, they are getting adjusted, yes."

People still not satisfied with the tax department's decision can appeal to county commissioners. The next step would be an appeal to the state Property Tax Commission and finally the N.C. Court of Appeals.