Commissioners table tax issue

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

WINDSOR – In an age where electronic wizardry is the norm, Bertie County wants to ensure that technological advances are worth the investment.

At last week’s Bertie Board of Commissioners meeting, the county’s leaders voted go table an issue for further study. That issue dealt with a growing trend across the state and nation to allow for paying property and vehicle taxes on-line.

Bertie County Tax Administrator Sterling Hancock Jr. and Data Center Director William Roberson explored what options were available for this type of service.

Hancock informed the Commissioners on Dec. 19 that $7,600 was needed to set-up the system. Of that amount, $2,500 would be paid to NexGen, a company providing web development for a property and vehicle database and search engine. Another $2,600 was needed to set-up credit card processing. Both were one-time charges.

In addition, the computer system at the Bertie Tax Office would require a $2,500 hardware upgrade. Also, there is a monthly charge of $210 the county must pay for the web hosting and credit card swipe software.

“We have had requests for this type of service,” Hancock informed the Commissioners. “We recommend you implement this in order to allow for greater customer service in aid of paying property and vehicle taxes.”

A question was posed to Hancock in regards to the expected revenue generated by this service.

“The expected revenue is unknown at this time,” Hancock said. “However, other counties using this technology have reported a gradual increase in revenues over a period of time.”

Hancock said the customer usage fees would vary according to the tax amount paid. Those fees range from $3 (for charges between $0.01 to $49.99) to $11 (for charges between $200-$299.99). Those charging over $300 would be assessed a $3 per $100 fee.

“The hypothesis of implementing a system such as this is it will encourage people to pay their taxes earlier and in doing so that money would be earning interest for us quicker than normal,” Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said.

Lamb added, “This seems to be working well in other counties. I recommend we try it as a service to our property owners.”

However, the Commissioners were still not completely sold on the idea. They requested Lamb bring more information on the issue to their next meeting.