Davison tax bills sometimes go to wrong personProblems are usually due to misunderstandings about who owes, or who is supposed to pay, taxes when property changes hands.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Davison County property owners who haven’t paid taxes in a while could be in for a surprise when that tax bill arrives.
“People are getting upset because they’re not getting tax bills,” Commission Chairman John Claggett said Tuesday, “and some property owners are annoyed when they end up with a large tax bill and penalties.”
Such problems are not due to county error, but typically occur with late-year property sales, Director of Equalization Kathy Goetsch explained. Problems are usually due to misunderstandings about who owes, or who is supposed to pay, taxes when property changes hands.
Notices may go to the wrong person, and by the time the next bill goes out to the right person, it may have more than one year of taxes on it.
At Claggett’s request, Goetsch and administrative assistant Betty Hegge reviewed property tax timelines at Tuesday’s county commission meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell.
Taxes should come as no surprise, Goetsch told the commissioners.
“If you buy property, you owe taxes,” she said, and the same rules apply for everyone. Tax notices for all property must be mailed out Jan. 1.
If property owners do not receive a notice, they should call her office, she said.
Unpaid property taxes carry a penalty of 10 percent a year, according to Treasurer Brenda Veldheer.
Property taxes are paid in arrears, Goetsch explained.
That means, for example, that:
• In 2012, property owners paid taxes on 2011 property assessments.
• In 2013, property owners will pay taxes on assessment notices they will receive in March 2012.
Misunderstandings can sometimes arise when property is sold, or in some cases, split between a seller and buyer, after the Nov. 1 assessment cutoff date.
It can be confusing, Goetsch acknowledged.
In the case of splits, the tax notice, which must be in the mail by Jan. 1, will go to the original owner and the new owner could mistakenly believe the taxes are paid.
The new ownership arrangement should be reported to her office as soon as possible so tax notices for a late-year property sale can be adjusted.
In worst-case scenarios, and if the buyer fails to check, the buyer may not get an updated tax notice for a year or more.
Goetsch said buyers and sellers should be very clear about the status of property taxes at any property closing.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Approved the expenditure of $18,000 from the 2013 Highway Department budget to rebuild the transmission and rear end on the county’s 1983 grader. Weinberg said the old machine is still reliable and makes a good back-up machine. New graders cost more than $200,000.
• Approved a new agreement with Beadle County to supply secure juvenile detention services at a cost of $180 a day, a price that is up from $160 a day.
• Accepted the resignation of former Davison County State’s Attorney Pat Smith, effective Dec. 14, the day Smith was sworn in as a judge in the First Judicial Circuit. The commissioners have appointed Jim Miskimins as Smith’s successor.
• Noted there will be a farewell party from 2 to 4 p.m. today for outgoing District 2 Commissioner Jerry Fischer. “It’s been a pleasure serving with you,” Commissioner Denny Kiner said to Fischer. “We didn’t always agree, but I really appreciated the institutional knowledge you brought to the commission.” Fischer said he will remain available for consultation should the need arise. He will also maintain his position as the head of the county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).
• Were informed by Zoning Administrator Dan Sudrla that Gary Stadlman has volunteered to continue serving on the County Planning and Zoning Commission.
• Were told by Sudlra said the unspecified announcement listed as a Tuesday agenda item was simply that applications for conditional use permits and variances must be submitted before noon Friday to be considered at the Jan. 8 meeting of the county Planning and Zoning Commission.
• Approved the purchase of a $1,758 display model tire-changing machine from the 2013 Highway Department budget. The machine will replace the county’s worn-out, 30-year-old model, Weinberg said.
• Requested of Weinberg that future information on the condition of county bridges contain the name of the township where a bridge or culvert is located, as well as the names of cross streets.
• Directed Jail Administrator Don Radel to check further into programs offered by Correctional Risk Services. Kiner said the company screens inmate medical expenses at no cost to the county, and keeps a portion of the savings it recovers. “It will give us an extra set of trained eyes,” Kiner said.
“The question is, are we being charged a fair amount for what is being prescribed?” Claggett said. “This month we had 74 claims, including one prescription bill for 30 tablets at $500.”