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Tax bills to go out on time


March 09, 2011
Note: The print version of this article mistakenly stated that Crawford County property tax statements are being mailed now. However, no statements will be mailed until they all have been printed. They should go out in the mail March 28.

Crawford County landowners should begin receiving their property tax statements at the end of the month.

Auditor Ricki Hawkins said the county, in mid-February, was the 80th in the state to receive its 2011 budget order from the Department of Local Government Finance, paving the way for the first installment to be due on the traditional May 10 deadline.

Last year was the first in several years that the two installments were due on the normal May 10 and Nov. 10 deadlines. Previous budget orders had been delayed, in part, because of problems from reassessment.

"A tremendous amount of cooperation and collaboration between local and state officials is required to ensure property tax bills go out on time, and it is rewarding to see all the efforts pay off," DLGF Commissioner Brian Bailey said.

Hawkins said that, after the state certified the county's budget order and tax rates, her office quickly went to work.

Comptroller Dottie Parke first completed the abstract, a compilation of the gross assessed values of each taxing district of real estate, personal property and utilities, by category, minus the various deductions and exemptions allowed, to equal the net assessed valuation of taxable property. The net value is multiplied by the individual fund rate for each taxing unit. The aggregate is the amount of taxes that will be charged to the taxpayers for the current year.

Once the abstract was approved by the state, Parke began work on the duplicate book, a paper record of the previous and current year taxes. In addition, Homestead Credits are reviewed to ensure the correct amount is applied.

Last year, some taxpayers inadvertently did not receive the full Homestead Credit because of errors resulting from the new property tax circuit breaker. Property owners who overpaid were contacted and refunded the difference. However, because of the circuit breaker, not every taxpayer who did not receive the full Homestead Credit overpaid. Since their payment amount was not affected, they were not contacted.

"That has been corrected," Hawkins said of the error.

The county has until April 25 to mail tax statements, but statements are being printed and will be mailed March 28.

Those statements are the culmination of a long process that began about a year ago. The first step in the assessment to tax billing process is the completion of the property assessments, which culminates with the submission of a ratio study.

A ratio study is a comparison between property sales prices and assessed values in the county to ensure that market values are being used to determine assessed values. Typically, these should be submitted to the state and approved by May 31, the year prior to tax billing. Crawford County's ratio study was submitted on May 26, 2010.

Once the DLGF approves the ratio study, the county assessor sends the gross assessed values to the county auditor, who applies exemptions, deductions or abatements to determine the net assessed values, the values upon which tax rates are based. That information was statutorily due to the DLGF by Aug. 2, 2010. Crawford County's certified net assessed values were submitted on Nov. 9.

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