PRINCETON — A number of Bureau County residents will need to check their mailboxes for an additional tax bill this year after a series of errors was discovered in the 2018 levies.
Bureau County Board this week announced a remedy that will correct errors that affected county townships, Bureau Valley School District and Lake Arispie Sanitary District.
Who will be affected?
On June 6, it was discovered that road taxes were not levied for 21 of the county’s townships, which resulted in an omission of $949,000. County Clerk Matt Eggers explained at the time that those counties leave that portion of their levy blank, assuming that the maximum amount will be apportioned to them. It was not discovered when they turned in their levies that the amounts were not accounted for. Four self-levying counties — Arispie, Berlin, Westfield and Wyanet were not affected.
The board at the time reported they would have to seek legal input to determine how the shortfall would be managed. Should the taxes not be levied, it would put the burden on each of the township’s reserves to pay for roadwork.
On the heels of that error, it was discovered Aug. 2 that the levy for one of the Bureau Valley High School construction bonds had not been accounted for. A total amount of $770,424 was not levied, which affects the taxes of 6,207 land parcels in the disctrict. With bond payments being due in December, the county board had little choice but to come up with an immediate solution to make up the shortfall.
Additionally, on Aug. 5 it was brought to the attention of the county that Lake Arispie Sanitary District levy was overlooked, resulting in an omission of $3,300. The amount not included on those bills wil affect 27 land owners.
What’s the fix?
The board’s fees and salaries committee offered up two possible solutions, the first being an addition to next year’s taxes to make up for the shortfall. That amount would be paid as part of the 2020 tax bills.
The second option, which was approved by the committee and the board as a whole is to send a third installment of the 2019 tax bills.
Affected residents will be able to mail the third installment at any time, however, the bill cannot be requested due until 30 days past the second installment due date of Sept. 10. The suggested due date for the uncollected taxes from the third installment, 30 days later would be Oct. 30.
Fees and salaries committee member Connie Stetson (R-Neponset) said the committee felt the third installment would be the best way to handle the errors because there are bills and bonds that need to be paid — namely the Dec. 1 deadline for the Bureau Valley bonds.
When asked, Stetson said it will cost the county $72,000 to remedy the errors.
Before the vote, Deb Feeney (D-Dalzell) expressed her displeasure with the handling of the errors.
“I am very upset to find out about this until our last board meeting,” she said. “I truly feel that as board members we should have been notified — that was horrendous to me as a board member because I have people to answer to. When that came out my answering machine was blowing up.”
“I found out about it in the newspaper as well,” Stetson said.