Good news times two in Bertie County

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2006

WINDSOR – The news is good on two fronts.

At last week’s meeting of the Bertie Board of Commissioners, the county’s governing body were pleased to learn that the collection rate for personal property taxes is on the rise while the amount owed to the county in back taxes continues to decline.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb broke the news to the commissioners. He reported to the board that the tax collection rate stood at 95.09 percent for 2005-06, the highest since 1984-85.

“Actually, the property tax collection rate is a bit over 97 percent, but the vehicle collection rate brings the overall average down to 95.09 percent,” Lamb said. “That will change in 2010 when the state changes its tax collection protocol on vehicles. By then, vehicle owners will pay their vehicle taxes when they purchase or renew their license tags.”

With the exception of a brief period between 1991-1995, Bertie’s tax collection rate declined from 1985 and 2000 where it bottomed out at 88.59 percent. County budgets are figured using the previous year’s tax collection rate, meaning the lower the number, the tougher it became to fully fund all the necessary services provided to Bertie citizens.

Now at a healthy 95.09 percent, Bertie has a tax collection rate that allows county leaders to properly fund services.

Meanwhile, back taxes owed to the county has slipped below $800,000 for the first time since 1990. That figure includes the current year back taxes plus that owed over the nine previous years.

“As a county manager, the best case scenario is for everyone to pay their taxes and pay them on time,” Lamb said. “But ours isn’t a perfect world. The great majority of our citizens pay their taxes and in turn we use that money to provide them with the services they need n public safety, education, health and human services and cultural and recreational resources. However, there are those who fail to pay their way, but we will continue in an effort to use every available resource to collect those unpaid taxes.”

As of June 30, the amount of uncollected county taxes stood at $799,426.37. That figure has steadily declined since a 17-year high of $1.33 million in 2000.

The Bertie Commissioners applauded Lamb and the tax department employees for their efforts.