Tax bills will likely have July deadline

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Treasurer predicts many properties will go to tax sales

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - County property-tax bills could have a June or July deadline, but July is more likely, County Treasurer Martha Wooldridge said Monday.

She attended a regular meeting of the county commissioners to secure their approval of a contract with Manatron, a Michigan-based company employed to print and mail tax bills. The county council had already authorized the $18,000 for those services, she noted. The commissioners approved the contract.   

County Auditor Connie Berger said she hoped to get tax rates from state officials this month.

In past years when tax bills were delayed, more people were willing to pay early installments based on their previous year's bill.

"People are holding onto their money, and not prepaying," Wooldridge said.

She also said a tax sale will be necessary this year, and "we'll probably have a lot of people qualified."

Such sales are usually conducted each year, but late and close deadlines for last year's spring and fall tax payments precluded one for 2008, she explained Wednesday.

A July deadline will permit one to be scheduled this year, and it will be necessary because one wasn't conducted last year. That and the number of calls she's received from people in danger of losing properties are the indicators presaging numerous sales.  

A taxpayer who is three installments behind is subject to a tax sale, Wooldridge said.

Berger told the commissioners "circuit breakers" are the source of "a lot of unknowns" for taxing officials. Enacted last year, the tax-rate caps were intended to protect property owners, but former Tell City Mayor Bill Goffinet, now a field services manager for the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, said in a June 2008 presentation it would result in a $71,000 shortfall for Perry County this year and a deficit of more than $197,000 next year.

Wooldridge said when people receive their tax statements, they can pay the bills at any of the local banks.

"A lot of people take advantage of that," she said.

In other business at the commissioners meeting, which was started with a moment of silence marking the May 1 death of Circuit Court Clerk Doris Davis, the county leaders approved a $9,000 appropriation from the county rainy-day fund to bring a county-employee handbook up to date. Updates have been provided from time to time, Berger said, but the book as a whole hasn't been revised for years.

Community Corrections Funding

The commissioners also approved a grant agreement with the state Department of Correction, which Traci Flamion, director of the county's community-corrections program, said is the same as one approved last year except for a 3-percent increase in pay raises.

The department provides the funding, she explained, to pay for day-reporting, drug-court, community-transition, community-service and juvenile programs.

In response to a question from Commissioner Gary Dauby, she said 22 people are working through the drug-court program, with five in juvenile drug court. Seventeen or 18 were in the community-service program.

The grant for approximately $167,000 would fund her salary and benefits and the pay for one full-time and one part-time staffer, Flamion said.

Timber-sale Road Improvement

The commissioners also approved plans presented by the U.S. Forest Service's Russ Christensen to improve Tree Farm Road in Tobin Township to ready it for two timber sales.

The gravel road will be widened to 12 feet, he explained, in preparation for the hauling of logs up to 70 feet long. Part of the funding will be required of  the contractor who wins the bid for timber removal.

Christensen said County Highway Superintendent Ed Feix had reviewed the plans.

Insurance Proposals

Commissioner Jody Fortwendel noted the county hadn't taken bids on certain types of insurance "for a very long time" and suggested proposals be solicited from interested agents for "everything but health and workers' comp."

A motion to that effect was approved.