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Property tax mix-up leads to scare

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Hubbard County is finding new and unusual ways to fill that new jail! How, you might ask? Just find a law abiding senior citizen who pays their taxes early and trump up false charges against them.

You might think this can’t happen in our little town, but believe me, it can happen to anyone who pays their taxes with a check. I would guess that is about 95 percent of the population!

I sent a check of over $1,100 to the courthouse on April 21 ... three weeks early for tax paying day. On May 6 a certified letter was mailed stating the bank couldn’t find an account by that number. Of course … they sent it to the wrong bank! In this letter, I was threatened with jail time of one year and a fine of $3,000 if I didn’t bring in cash to the treasurer within five days.

How can this happen you may ask? Hubbard County has its own check-reading machine, which reads the routing number and the check is on its way through the banking system electronically. They no longer hand carry checks to the bank for deposit. Hubbard County’s new machine misread my bank’s routing number as the bank in Luverne. That bank said, “No account found.” I don’t bank in Luverne so it was returned to the Hubbard County Treasurer Pam Hereen.

As I was discussing this with the county treasurer, she explained that usually when the machine misreads the routing numbers it will come up with a number that no bank has so it just kicks it out and they figure out what’s wrong but in my case the machine read it as a number of a working bank so the electronic check was on its way through the electronic banking system.

Usually when the machine misreads a check? I’m thinking, how often does this happen but I didn’t even argue any further. I’m thinking, what a mess.

Do you think the treasurer’s office was falling down with apologies for their error? Heck, no. They brushed it off as just something that happens. What a scary age we live in. If you pay taxes by check just line right up for that new jail. They might have a room for you with no apologies offered!

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