Kreg Robinson General Manager
Monroe County Treasurer Taylor Abbott wasn’t sure what to expect when he started mass-mailing delinquent tax notices in October.
While collecting some of the $645,799.81 owed to the county in delinquent property taxes was the main goal, so was letting property owners who were behind know that he was serious about collecting what was owed.
Abbott didn’t set an exact goal of what he hoped to collect, but, if he had, he likely would have exceeded it.
In just six weeks, Abbott’s office collected $265,115.30, more than 40 percent of the total amount owed to the county. “I’m pleased with what we were able to do in a short amount of time,” Abbott said.
The process started with identifying exactly who owed the county in back property taxes for the close to 1,000 parcels with delinquent taxes in the county.
In some cases, property owners had moved, requiring Abbott’s staff to try to locate current addresses.
After locating the property owners, letters went out notifying those property owners of their amount owed. Some property owners replied to the notices, either paying their delinquent taxes in full or setting up a payment plan.
Those who chose not to reply were listed in a notice in the Monroe County Beacon Nov. 23 and 30, getting even more to contact Abbott’s office to make a payment.
Abbott said the process was time-consuming and tedious at times, but necessary for the county.
“Everyone who lives in Monroe County benefits in some way from the taxes collected annually,” he said. “A vast majority (of property tax funds) goes to schools. But it’s not just schools; it’s county agencies, Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District, MACO, things like that that are important to the county.”
Abbott said some property owners were simply unaware they owed back taxes, and only needed a reminder.
“I’ve received letters with people thanking me for the reminder,” he said. “It’s nice to receive those correspondences and it wasn’t expected when I’m sending them a delinquent notice.”
“A lot were grateful to set up payment plans,” Abbott added. “I’m more than happy to work with them. I truly appreciate those who have taken the time to come in and enter into a payment plan to avoid any further interest or penalties. We have all seen hard times and have been through them. Having the option of a payment plan has made it easier for those who are delinquent to get caught up on their taxes and stay that way.”
Collecting 40 percent of the total amount due to the county is a good start, but at the same time that’s exactly what it is, Abbott said, a start.
Abbott plans to continue to aggressively pursue any property owner who owes delinquent property taxes.
He knows some property owners will simply refuse to pay their property taxes.
Those property owners will be turned over to Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney James L. Peters and potentially have their property sold in a foreclosure sale.
Abbott said the county would likely hold another foreclosure sale in 2018, with possibly more than one being held in the year.
The county previously held foreclosure sales Oct. 6 and Oct. 20 with 15 properties up for sale.
Abbott said those who owe delinquent property taxes need to know they need to pay or they will face the consequences.
“It isn’t fair to those who pay their taxes on time and play by the rules if we don’t hold those who are delinquent accountable,” Abbott said. “We aren’t here to take anyone’s property. That’s the last thing we want to do. But those who are delinquent must understand that the issue will not just go away. Additional penalties and interest will continue to accrue until action on the part of the property owner is taken, or ultimately it will end up in foreclosure proceedings.”