tax office

BEAUFORT — Carteret County is late mailing out property tax bills, a problem that is resulting in municipalities being late to get theirs out and reducing the flow of revenue into town coffers.

During a recent meeting of the Peletier Board of Commissioners, Mayor Dale Sowers noted that the town’s budget is small but heavily dependent on property taxes, which generally start coming in in early September. The town is sometimes “in the black” until tax money starts flowing in.

Mayor John Brodman of Pine Knoll Shores also noted the problem this week, saying the town is trying to buy a new $1.8 million fire truck by the end of the month – using reserve funds that will eventually be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency – but he is concerned about the lack of revenue coming in during hurricane season when money might be needed fast for cleanup efforts after the reserve money is spent. Peak hurricane season is now, but there are often major hurricanes in October.

“We’re kind of behind the 8-ball in terms of income,” Mayor Brodman said.

The county bills usually go out in early August.

Jessica Taylor, Carteret County tax administrator, this week did not say exactly when the bills will finally go out.

“The Carteret County Tax Administration has been working to convert its tax software through a series of phases, with billing and collections as the final phase of the software conversion process,” she said. “This has been a huge task that involved the conversion of 10 years of appraisal data for real and personal property, collection payment records and uncollected taxes.”

In Emerald Isle, Town Manager Matt Zapp said his Bogue Banks town isn’t having any problems.

“We appreciate our relationship with Carteret County, and specifically the tax office,” he said in an email response to questions. “They help Emerald Isle provide a single tax bill and a convenient collections process.”

As for the county’s software update, Zapp said, “There is never a good time to make these changes, and we certainly understand the challenges.”

Zapp said the delay in the billing has not caused any operational issues and added that property owners have not complained.

Taylor said the staff has “worked diligently to ensure that no data was lost in this conversion and that the integrity of the data was not compromised."

“Additionally,” she said, “this process included the conversion of data to third-party vendors who also had to make programming changes for the acceptance of credit cards, mortgage escrow payments, and the retail lockbox processing of check payments received through the mail.

“The delay in the mailing of bills has been the result of the amount of data to review and to ensure the third-party vendor import and export files worked as expected.”

The tax office processes most payments from citizens and third-party vendors in the month of November and December, as interest begins on Jan. 6.

Although there have been rumors to the contrary, County Public Information Officer Nick Wilson said the county does not provide tax breaks for people who pay early before interest begins to accumulate on the accounts of people who have not paid.

Taylor thanked the public for being patient and said that once the software update is complete, services from the office to residents and property owners will be improved.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

(3) comments

Bruthru

Will there be any accountability for this disaster at the county level. No!

They are some of the nicest people you ever want to me but at the same time they are some of the dumbest you will ever meet.

How can you go live with a new tax accounting system and not do adequate planning, data conversion, migrating of data into a test system and conduct verification before you decide to abandon you system that has worked for years?

Again I asked that our local governments become accountable for their performance as well as come clean on system cost, overrun cost and review the timeline results as well what could we have done to avoid such problems. It is the only way we the tax payers can hold those that screwed up being accountable.

mpjeep

Had it been a Private company, the powers that be know you run a parallel system with old and new software.

David Collins

Will the due by date be extended to reflect this SNAFU .

Welcome to the discussion.

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