Sullivan County property tax collections down

J. H. Osborne • Apr 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — There’s been a marked drop in revenue coming in from people paying their Sullivan County property taxes, the county’s top finance officer told members of the County Commission’s Budget Committee on Thursday.

Revenues from that source are about $90,000 below where they were last year at this point, Accounts and Budgets Director Larry Bailey said.

“That’s very unusual,” Bailey said. “That’s the first time in my memory that we’ve had that happen.”

The county’s current budget, for the fiscal year that ends June 30, was based in part on an expectation of about $18.611 million coming in from county property taxes.

That represented a modest growth over last year, but growth was expected. And such growth normally shows up in February — taxes are due the last day of that month — Bailey said.

This year the growth failed to materialize, he said, an indication fewer people paid their taxes on time.

In all, according to a year-to-date revenue summary Bailey provided to committee members, about $425,000 of budgeted property tax revenues remain uncollected for this fiscal year — about 2.3 percent of the $18.611 million figure, which represents about 97 percent of total property taxes billed by the county. The 3 percent not budgeted reflects the amount typically becoming delinquent in recent years.

Any uncollected taxes from this year will be carried forward as delinquent — and receivable — in coming budgets.

Budget Committee Chairman Eddie Williams said the county used to budget for a higher delinquency rate — expecting revenue to range from 92 percent to 95 percent of the total, rather than the 97 percent used in recent years.

Bailey said the 97 percent has proved to be a reliable estimate until this year.

Williams said the county will eventually get the $90,000.

Bailey said bankruptcies could be one reason for the drop, and if that’s the case, the county might not ever see all the money.

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