Wayne County property owners have less than a week to pay their 2021 property tax bills before facing the additional cost of interest.

Tax payments are due in the tax office by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 5, to avoid being delinquent. Payments sent by mail must be postmarked by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 5, by the U.S. Postal Service in order to be considered on time.

After that date, 2% interest will be added to the bill for January and 3/4% every month thereafter until it is paid in full.

Taxpayers have several payment options:

• In person at the tax office on the first floor of the Wayne County Courthouse Annex or left in a drop box located on the Ormond Avenue side of the courthouse.

• Online or by phone, but both those options carry a fee collected by the company that provides the service. The county does not receive any revenue from the fee.

• Remove the bottom portion of the bill, write a check and mail it in.

Bills that are mailed must be postmarked no later than 5 p.m. Jan. 5 by the U.S. Postal Service. Office postal marks are not valid to show that the mailing met the deadline.

The return address for the payments is in Charlotte, something that still generates questions, said Allen Lumpkin, Wayne County tax collector.

“It was BB&T, now Truist,” he said. “(The payment) goes to a P.O. box in Charlotte, their headquarters, and they process it for us straight into the bank.”

Handling payments that way streamlines the process, Lumpkin said.

Payments thus far look “pretty average” compared to prior years, he said. It does not appear that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected payments, he said.

“When all is said and done, we will have to find out, but right now it looks to be coming in as usual,” Lumpkin said.

Gone for the most part are the long lines of taxpayers rushing to make a last-minute payment, he said.

“We don’t have lines like that anymore,” he said.

It used to be that the tax office had a line at the end of each month when people paid their vehicle taxes in order to renew their registration, Lumpkin said.

Putting property tax bills on top of that in December really made for long lines, he said.

That changed in 2014 when a new law went into effect requiring the tax to be paid at the time the vehicle registration is renewed.

“That helped some, and then I think people got more used to paying it online or using the drop box,” he said. “So no, our lines are nothing like they used to be.”

The Wayne County Tax Office began mailing out some 75,500 tax notices for the 2021 levy on Aug. 19. The bills began arriving in mailboxes the following day.

The 2021 levy amounts to about $57.4 million in county tax revenue only, Lumpkin said. As of June 30, the end of the county’s 2020-21 fiscal year, 98.39% of the 2020 levy had been collected.

The total is probably closer to 99% since the office continues to collect taxes all year, Lumpkin said.

The county’s new tax rate is 70.75 cents per $100 of property value — an increase of 4.4 cents over the previous rate of 66.35 cents.

The increase will mean that the owner of property valued at $100,000 will pay an extra $44 in county property tax.

Wayne County commissioners approved the increase to finance new debt for four capital projects — $5 million for a new Fremont elementary school; a $25 million health and social services building; a $25 million jail; and $3 million to support completion of the Wayne Community College Advanced Manufacturing Center.

The county also handles the billing for all of its fire districts and municipalities.

Goldsboro City Council increased the city property tax rate from 65 cents per $100 of property value to 68 cents, which means the owner of property valued at $100,000 will pay an additional $30 in city taxes.

Combined, the city and county increases will amount to an additional $74 for a $100,000 property inside the city limits.

Also, Fremont’s tax rate increased from 67 cents to 68 cents per $100 of property value.

That increase translates to an additional $10 in taxes for property inside the town valued at $100,000 — a total increase of $54 in county and town taxes combined for those who own property inside the city limits.

Boon Hill Fire District in Johnston County increased its tax rate from 5 cents to 8 cents per $100 of property value.

Although located in Johnston County, the district provides coverage in Wayne County, Lumpkin said.

The Elroy Fire District tax dropped from 6.25 cents to 6 cents per $100 of property value.

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