Tax bills, refunds slowed (Detroit - computer glitches)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Tax bills, refunds slowed
Computer glitches blamed for city's late mailings
October 4, 1999
BY DARCI McCONNELL FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Detroit -- You might say the checks and bills are in the mail.
But property-tax bills and income-tax refunds issued by the City of Detroit are slow in coming this year for some residents and workers, as officials cope with technology and data problems.
As of Sept. 30, the city had issued 220,579 income-tax refunds, more than 90 percent of its returns. It also had paid $141,000 in interest fees on late refunds, those issued after June 15, said city Finance Director Edward Hannan.
Although the city's return rate is close to that of the state, which has processed about 96 percent of its returns, Hannan said he'd like to do better.
Hannan blamed a new computer system for the slowdown.
"What we've got is an imaging system, and it wasn't picking up the amounts in many instances, so you have to go in and manually do the input. So we're further behind than we would have liked to have been," Hannan said. "But I'm not in the position to say we're much better or much worse than last year."
In 1998, the city's income-tax section started processing returns 8 weeks late because of delays installing a $6-million software program. The city processes about 500,000 returns each year.
The problems last year caused the city to pay $257,956 in interest fees for the 1998-99 fiscal year.
That amount, while small in comparison to the budgets for buying equipment and making other capital improvements, would still have helped some city services. The money would cover salary and benefits for at least one firefighter, or the cost of building four basketball courts for city recreation centers.
"I know we need to do better," Hannan said.
Some residents also have not received their property-tax bills, which are due to be paid annually in August.
Fran Desmond, 73, said she mailed a property-tax payment in mid-August, even though the city never sent her a bill for her east-side home.
"It's kind of aggravating, because they complain about not getting their taxes," Desmond said, referring to an ambitious program the city kicked off earlier this year to go after delinquent property-tax bills. "I've called and called and never get an answer."
Hannan said bills have been mailed by the city to all property owners, and the problem could be a result of bad addresses given to the city by local lending agencies.
"I do recognize that there are tax bills which get sent to the wrong address," Hannan said. "As far as I know though, all tax bills have been mailed out."
-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), October 04, 1999
i wish all of them (tax-dudes) would go belly-up.
-- sarah (email@example.com), October 04, 1999.