Originally created 09/13/03

Property tax bills mailed



Columbia County property owners can soon expect another payment notice in the mail mixed in with their cable and phone bills.

As they do every year in September, county officials mailed out their final batch of property tax bills Friday.

A total of 40,355 bills have gone out for a sum of $50.4 million in real and personal property taxes. That's 1,530 more bills than the county sent out last year and $3.5 million more in collections.

A combination of growth and reassessed property values in recent years has resulted in a nearly 27 percent increase in what the county will collect this year compared with the amount in 1998.

Property owners received reassessment notices in June from the county's tax assessor's office, then had a chance to make appeals.

"And if those were not made, then the assumption is that everything's correct," said Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen, who said residents with questions about their property's value would need to call the county's tax assessors office.

Payments for the bills are due back to the county on Nov. 15. Officials will tack on a 1 percent interest fee to late bills and a 10 percent penalty 90 days after the deadline.

Each year, a number of unopened bills are returned to the county because owners have moved or sold their property, Ms. Allen said.

"I've got what I call the D-Team - the delinquent department," she said. "We'll go through all of our records and find if that property has been sold."

Out of last year's bills, $400,000 - or less than 1 percent - was uncollected. But Ms. Allen said there was not a shortfall because of other interest and late penalty collections.

The collected money is split among the local government, county school system and the state.

TAX BILL ERRORS

According to county officials, there are two errors printed on the back of Columbia County's tax bills sent out this week:

The qualifying age for the L3 local exemption is listed as 52 years old. Property owners must be 62 years old to qualify for the exemption.

Also, the age for the L4 exemption is listed as 55, but qualifying property owners must be 65.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.