Rollback checks in the mail for Dayton residents
The check’s in the mail. Well, by July 6 at the latest. Clerks in the Liberty County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office have been working on the rollback checks and are ready to mail them out to Dayton taxpayers following the successful election to roll back the 2017 tax rate. Liberty County Tax Assessor-Collector Rick Brown is warning residents not to throw the envelope away because they may have a refund inside.
The election was held on May 5 and the vote was canvassed on May 14 by the Dayton city council which began the clock ticking on when the rollback checks had to be delivered to taxpayers without a 1 percent penalty interest added each month.
The city had 60 days from May 14 to get the checks returned to taxpayers, but that was no easy process.
By tax code, the city’s tax assessor-collector, Alan Conner, was responsible to rebill each of the clients and reassess the bills, but he was not set up by computer to do that.
The city reached out to Brown for assistance.
Brown said he was willing to do the work for the city under a separate contract.
“Fortunately, this is not a time in our office where we’re overwhelmed and could devote some attention to a project like this,” Brown said.
Brown did not charge anything more than his actual cost and no charge on the labor — basically just to pay for their expenses to do the work.
“The procedures for doing a rollback are very detailed and complicated,” Brown said.
He had to secure their software company to do some reprogramming, which took some time to execute.
“We’ve collected around 94 percent of their 2017 taxes, but to equalize that with the rollback would require a refund,” he said.
That was one process.
Spindlemedia, Inc., the software utilized in the tax office, reprogrammed the software with the correct tax rate and then all of the 5,000-plus accounts had to be refigured for the updated tax rate.
Going through the process computerized assured that the city wouldn’t be burdened with additional interest on the accounts that weren’t refunded before the 60 days was up on July 13.
The cost to do the reprogramming was approximately $5,000, and then they charged for the envelopes, checks, postage and an explanation letter required by the tax code demonstrating for the taxpayer why they are receiving a refund.
City Attorney Brandon Davis generated the letter for the city of Dayton and furnished the letter to the tax office.
The total cost for the project was around $10,000. The target date to get the checks in the mail was July 6.
“I wouldn’t say they should expect them during the weekend, depending upon the delayed mail delivery, but certainly by the beginning of the following week,” Brown said.
But that was only one aspect of the refunds.
Those who have not paid their city of Dayton taxes will also have theirs reassessed.
“They are already accruing late fees and attorney’s fees and on July 2, that goes to 20 percent,” Brown said, but with a new caveat.
Since a new tax statement is being generated for them and all other taxpayers, Brown said the delinquency date now has to be extended the same number of days from when the statement was originally mailed on Oct. 17, 2017, till the new statement is received. Those days are now added to the July 1 statement date and the delinquency date rolls over till April 1, 2019 when penalties and interest will be added.
Brown said that’s about 6 percent and worth about another $250,000.
Brown said they are stuffing approximately 2,700 checks on Tuesday, July 3, when the envelopes arrive and they should have the checks in the mail no later than Friday, July 6, a full week ahead of the deadline.
Brown said these checks are blue instead of the typical rose-colored ones used by his office and they are used for distinction purposes.
He said the city is paying back approximately $95,000-plus for the rollback.
The significance of all the extra work, monitoring, and the cost to the city for the rollback and the actual amount being refunded was an eye-opener for the tax assessor.
“It’s a lot,” he said. “And this will be something we will have to monitor for the next three years, too,” he said.
All refunds with a $1 and above are being returned. All refunds less than a $1, .99 to .01, are only refunded if the taxpayer makes a request for it within 90 days of notice. Brown said there were 834 accounts with a refund of less than a dollar.
For more information on the tax rollback and refund, please contact the city of Dayton at 936-258-2642.