Those Sampson County residents with outstanding taxes will have until the end of this month to pay or have their names published, even as the Board of Equalization and Review preps to hear appeals for 2013 tax bills.
Last month, tax administrator Jim Johnson said there was $200,000 more in unpaid taxes this year than in 2012, currently around $3.5 million, where the figure in February 2012 was at about $3.3 million.
“Our overall collection rate right now is 87.4 percent, compared to 87.8 percent last year at this point in time,” Johnson noted. “Our total tax levied is about half a million dollars more at this point as well.”
The county regularly collects around 95 percent of taxes owed. Names are scheduled to be advertised on April 4, with the deadline for payment set at March 29, by 5 p.m.
“We would have to have the payment in the office by 5 p.m. March 29 to keep their name out of the paper,” Johnson said. By law, the tax collector also shall assess an advertising fee to each parcel to cover the cost of the advertisement. Based on a $2.86 cost per parcel in 2012, commissioners previously approved a $3 charge per parcel for the 2013 ad.
As the county attempts to collect past due taxes, it is looking forward to dealing with appeals of taxes for 2013.
The Board of E&R — in Sampson County, the Board of Commissioners serves in that capacity and hears tax appeals — will begin meeting at the end of April. The hearings were initially set as April 23, April 24, April 30, May 1 and May 8, with hearings to be take place from 1 to 6 p.m. on those dates.
County manager Ed Causey said Tuesday those dates are still firm. With meetings concerning the county water system on tap, as well as regular meetings and impending budget workshops, the Board of E&R dates will bring a full slate to commissioners.
“The (Board of Commissioners) will be very busy come spring,” Causey said.
However, the E&R responsibilities are not expected to be as arduous this time around. While hearings are slated to end at 6 p.m., they may go longer if necessary. All residents have the opportunity to speak to the Board of E&R and contest their property values, but by appointment only.
They were nine dates scheduled to hear more than 80 tax appeals last year. In 2011, the Board of E&R listened to close to 200 formal appeals to the values over numerous weeks, holding more than a dozen sessions to hear all appeals. However, that was the exception rather than the rule, due to 2011 being a revaluation year, Johnson said.
“Typically what you see as you get further and further away from a reval year, your number of appeals should become lower and lower,” Johnson said recently. “When we advertise it in the paper, we may see a spike in that. Right now, we have about 20 appeals that have come into the office at this point. We hope to complete it within the five days.”
A change to the tax bill is only made if the property owner can demonstrate the appraised tax value is more than the market value. That usually only comes with an independent appraisal that contradicts the county-placed value, or some other form of tangible evidence that the property appraisal is too high.
The board needs to complete its duties on or before the third Monday following its first meeting or by July 1. Final tax bills are sent out at the end of July and the beginning of August. Those wishing to file an appeal based on their assessed value can still do so even when the appeals are underway.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.