Rev­enue short from taxes on prop­erty

Split shifts among county staff could be the cause, trea­surer-tax col­lec­tor says

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Shomik Mukher­jee smukher­jee@times-stan­ @ShomikMukh­er­jee on Twit­ter

Hum­boldt County has re­ceived 7% less in prop­erty tax rev­enue than it did a year ago this week, though of­fi­cials say there are fac­tors at hand other than the eco­nomic im­pacts of the coron­avirus pan­demic.

The county has col­lected $48.2 mil­lion so far in an­nual tax rev­enue. As of April 6, 2019, the number was $51.9 mil­lion. An­nual in­stall­ments of prop­erty taxes are due April 10.

The county’s trea­surer-tax col­lec­tor said Tues­day the of­fice is com­plet­ing a late fee waiver form for peo­ple who have been eco­nom­i­cally im­pacted by COVID-19 and the re­sult­ing shel­ter-in-place or­der.

“That’s not only the COVID-19 (out­break) but it could be be­cause we are do­ing our pay­ment pro­cess­ing in shifts so we don’t have all per­son­nel here all the time,” said trea­surer tax col­lec­tor John Bartholome­w.

That way, Bartholome­w ex­plained, the of­fice won’t be at risk of a small-scale virus out­break that could put all of his staff out of com­mis­sion.

The county’s board of su­per­vi­sors on Mon­day au­tho­rized Bartholome­w to com­plete the form so that peo­ple af­fected by the shel­ter-in-place or­der will get more time to pay their prop­erty taxes.

Much of the rev­enue goes to the county’s spe­cial dis­tricts, in­clud­ing lo­cal util­i­ties like the Hum­boldt Bay Mu­nic­i­pal Wa­ter Dis­trict.

The county op­er­ates on a “teeter” pro­gram, which means it owes a set amount of money to those spe­cial dis­tricts each year, re­gard­less of whether enough peo­ple have paid prop­erty taxes.

But as of Tues­day, the county re­mains well short of what it owes in teeter pay­ments — $60 mil­lion.

“The hope is that we col­lect the rest by (April 10),” Paz Dominguez wrote in an email.

“If not, then the County has to front the bill for the dif­fer­ence. The Tax Col­lec­tor is pro­cess­ing pay­ments ev­ery day and he has at least 3 mail trays full of mailed pay­ments to go through. The odds look good, not grim at this point.”

Not all spe­cial dis­tricts are wor­ried about the late pay­ments — the Hum­boldt Bay Mu­nic­i­pal Wa­ter Dis­trict will con­tinue to op­er­ate as nor­mal, gen­eral man­ager John Frieden­bach said Tues

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