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No statement? Taxes will be due anyway

A "screw up" in mailing Hubbard County's property tax statements is causing headaches for courthouse staff. According to auditor/treasurer Pam Heeren, printing and mailing property tax statements and valuation notices was outsourced a year ago. W...

A "screw up" in mailing Hubbard County's property tax statements is causing headaches for courthouse staff.

According to auditor/treasurer Pam Heeren, printing and mailing property tax statements and valuation notices was outsourced a year ago.

Wednesday she told county commissioners the county saved $2,000 to $3,000 in postage and the system worked last year.

This year, the vendor is the same, but the problems are significant and are costing money and hundreds of hours of staff time. "You name it, they screwed it up," Heeren said.

One of the problems, she said, is property owners with multiple parcels often did not receive statements for all parcels.

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What people will need to understand, she emphasized, is "the law says not getting your statement doesn't forgive you." Property taxes owed will be due May 15 anyway.

Snowbirds will receive their statements late. The envelopes were marked incorrectly and the post office has returned snowbirds' twice, so staff are mailing them all a third time.

Still another problem, Heeren said, is some property owners have not received valuation notices, the wrong valuation notice or no valuation notice at all.

The county assessor's office started holding township and city boards of review Monday but if property owners haven't received their new notices, they haven't been notified and don't know what their statements are reporting.

Lyle Robinson suggested commissioners will need to consider the valuation notice issue and "apply common sense. It's not their (property owners') fault if they don't have their valuations and don't show up for the board of equalization," he said.

Heeren said she asked the vendor how many statements are left over and he didn't know.

Commissioners asked Heeren if the statements should be sent from her office next year.

Heeren said they could take the job back but would need to buy several pieces of new equipment.

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"In addition to the cost, we have to consider the people, too," said commissioner Dick Devine, adding that if Heeren needed to hire a couple of temporary people to do the work next year, it would be worth the expense.

Finally, Heeren said, county attorney Don Dearstyne will be writing the vendor a letter.

"They are no longer responding to her e-mails," Dearstyne said.

If you did not receive your 2008 tax statement or valuation notice, contact the county auditor/treasurer's office at 732-3196 or assessor's office at 732-3452.

luannh@parkrapidsenterpise.com

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