Editorial misses reasons behind fee amnesty

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 29, 2011 

I am somewhat puzzled by the Sept. 20 editorial referencing the treasurer fee amnesty program ("Too early to tell impact of fee amnesty program").

You did not seem to make an effort to really look into the real purposes of the program. Let me just refresh everyone regarding our goals with this effort:

  • Give people who were past due the incentive to pay the past due taxes earlier.

  • Enhance the county's cash flow at an otherwise slow collection period.

  • Realizing the economic situation, offer assistance to some people, who are truly struggling to pay their taxes.

  • Reduce the amount of fees collected in order to bring them more in line with actual cost.

  • Reduce our cost by reducing monies spent on advertising, expenses associated with physically posting of properties. We are hopeful this will also result in fewer properties going to the tax sale.

  • With the economy the way it is and has been for the past couple of years, I would feel successful if we just maintained the number of items going to the tax sale in previous years.

    You failed to bring out that, overall, we took in $750,000 more than the same period in the previous year and $100,000 of that was from past dues dating back to 2002. In addition, 32 percent of the overall increase was for property classes that are not sent to tax sale.

    Given the opportunity of serving for one full year I will better be able to determine the amount of fees necessary to complete the collection process and adjust accordingly.

    We must keep adequate funds in the fee account to support the ongoing collection activities, and if there appear to be excesses after a one year cycle, we will make necessary adjustments.

    You mentioned in your editorial that this was a good idea but shouldn't have to be done every year. I refer you to the several ads which we placed in your newspaper advertising the amnesty program. It plainly stated that this is a "one time offer not to be repeated." I think you can assume that this offer will not be repeated annually.

    I appreciate your interest in the activities of our department and will always offer transparency to our taxpayers.

    Doug Henderson is Beaufort County treasurer.

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