Property tax bills are mailed two months later than normal

COVINGTON, Ga. – The later than usual release of the county tax summary in mid-July and the relatively late approval of the property tax rate in August produced a domino effect that resulted in a two-month delay in sending property tax bills, the tax commissioner said.

As a result, Tax Commissioner Marcus Jordan said he hoped to send tax bills by this week rather than August 20 as usual.

If sent on Wednesday, October 20, then property taxes will be due 60 days later on December 20, with a final installment, if required, due February 20.

Jordan said he told county commissioners and the Board of Assessors in May and July this year of “my concern about the possibility of a delay in the delivery of tax bills”.

His letters explained the process and timeline for collecting taxes after approval of a tax summary and property tax rates.

He also said in the letter that the delays in releasing the tax summary and approving the property tax rate, also known as the mileage rate, would impede “my ability to pass tax revenue to the council of commissioners, the board of education and our cities”.

Jordan said state law requires the tax assessor’s office to submit the tax summary by June 1 if a county collects taxes in installments — which Newton County does.

“A copy of the summary was not received until July 20 from tax assessors for the current year’s summary,” he said.

Jordan said the tax summary was submitted on September 1 and he received an order authorizing its use for property tax collection on September 17.

Chief Evaluator Marti Kinard did not immediately return a call for comment today.

Jordan added that the Board of Commissioners only approved the current property tax rate in mid-August.

The board voted on June 15 to wait for approval of an early draft of the 2022 budget until revisions can be made to comply with a drop in revenue due to a lower tax rate. The council approved a rate cut from 12,916 mills to 11,145 mills on August 17.

Additionally, the Office of the Tax Commissioner uses a third-party vendor, Diversified Companies LLC, to print and mail tax invoices, Jordan said.

County Commissioner Stan Edwards reprinted on his Facebook page the wording of a letter from Diversified to Jordan indicating that the company was about to create final evidence of tax invoices for Jordan to inspect.

Jordan, who is the county’s former chief tax assessor, said he was “certain in my 20-plus year tenure with Newton County government (that) the tax commissioners have utilized the services of a third-party supplier to print and send the invoices”.

He said Diversified has been in communication with Georgia Tax Collection System, which manages the Office of the Tax Commissioner’s new accounting software, “to ensure the accuracy of this year’s billing statements.”

Edwards said he was concerned about the effect of the delay on taxpayer balances in escrow accounts – used by mortgage companies and banks to pay property taxes.

“Additionally, many of our municipalities will have to adjust accordingly to the revenue lag as they collect taxes through the county,” he said.

He added that the Council’s goal of having 50% of the county’s annual budget saved on reserves means the county will be less affected by a delay in tax revenue.

Penny D. Jackson