COVINGTON, Ga. — Later than usual release of the county’s tax digest in mid-July and comparatively late approval of the property tax rate in August produced a domino effect that resulted in a two-month delay in mailing property tax bills, the tax commissioner says.
As a result, Tax Commissioner Marcus Jordan said he hoped to send tax bills by this week rather than Aug. 20, as usual.
If sent Wednesday, Oct. 20, property taxes then will be due 60 days later, on Dec. 20, with a final installment, if needed, due Feb. 20.
Jordan said he told county commissioners and the Board of Assessors in May and July of this year about “my concern with the possibility of a delay in the delivering of tax bills.”
His letters explained the process and timing for collecting taxes after a tax digest and property tax rates are approved.
He also said in the letter that the delays in releasing the tax digest and approving the property tax rate, also known as the millage rate, would hinder “my ability to pass tax collection revenue to the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, and our cities.”
Jordan said state law required the Tax Assessor’s office to transmit the tax digest by June 1 if a county collects taxes in installments — which Newton County does.
“A copy of the digest was not received until July 20 from the Tax Assessors for the current year’s digest,” he said.
Jordan said the tax digest was submitted on Sept. 1 and he received an order authorizing its use for the collection of property taxes on Sept. 17.
Chief Appraiser Marti Kinard did not immediately return a call for comment today.
Jordan added the Board of Commissioners did not approve the current property tax rate until mid-August.
The Board voted on June 15 to wait on approving a first version of the 2022 budget until revisions could be made to conform to a decrease in revenue from a lower tax rate. The board approved a decrease in the rate from 12.916 mills to 11.145 mills on Aug. 17.
In addition, the tax commissioner’s office is using a third-party vendor, Diversified Companies LLC, to print and mail tax bills, Jordan said.
County Commissioner Stan Edwards reprinted on his Facebook page the wording of a letter from Diversified to Jordan about the company being close to creating final proofs of tax bills for Jordan to inspect.
Jordan, who is the county’s former chief tax appraiser, said he was “certain since my 20-plus year tenure with Newton County government (that) tax commissioners have utilized the service of a third party vendor to print and mail bills.”
He said Diversified has been in communication with Georgia Tax Collection System, which services the tax commissioner’s office’s new accounting software program, “to ensure the accuracy of this year’s billing statements.”
Edwards said he had concerns about the effect of the delay on taxpayers’ balances in escrow accounts — used by mortgage companies and banks to pay property taxes.
“Additionally, several of our municipalities will have to adjust accordingly to the delay in revenue because they collect taxes via the county,” he said.
He added that the Board’s goal of having 50% of the annual county budget saved in reserves means the county will be less affected by a delay in tax revenues.