Tax scare shakes Kingsland -Software blamedgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Tuesday, February 22, 2000
Story last updated at 12:51 a.m. on Tuesday, February 22, 2000
Tax scare shakes Kingsland Software blamed for billing errors
By Gordon Jackson Times-Union staff writer
KINGSLAND -- Shelly Pharris was prepared for an increase in her property taxes after an increase was approved by the Kingsland City Council last month. But she didn't expect her taxes to nearly triple in one year.
"I was shocked," she said. "I had heard taxes were going up, but I didn't know they were going up that much."
Pharris was among an estimated 5,000 Kingsland property owners who received 1999 tax bills Saturday that were at least double and as much as four times the amount they paid a year ago.
Not to worry, city officials said yesterday. The bills were a mistake caused by a software error in the city finance department's new computer system, installed a few months ago.
City officials were busy yesterday dealing with callers such as Kim Thompson, who wanted an explanation about her tax bill. She paid $128 in city property taxes last year; the bill she received in Saturday's mail was for $360, Thompson said.
"I hoped it was a mistake," she said. "I couldn't see how our city taxes could triple in one year."
Most of the callers were understanding once they were told the bills were incorrect and the fault of new computer software, said Maria Lugue, city clerk.
"We just can't help what this computer system did," Lugue said. "We want everything cleared up. It's unfortunate it happened."
Callers were told to disregard their bills and wait for a new one in the mail. New bills will be sent after the computer problem is repaired, probably in the next week or so, said Dayton Gillette, city manager.
While city residents may get a brief reprieve on paying their property taxes, Mary Gamble said she is concerned her mortgage company may be processing and paying an inaccurate bill from the city.
"It is quite a shock when your taxes are more than doubled," Gamble said.
Gillette said property owners shouldn't worry if their taxes are paid through their mortgage companies because those bills were accurate. The only problems with inaccurate bills were those sent to individual property owners.
"There's no reason to panic; there's no reason to be concerned," Gillette said.
No estimates have been given on how much it will cost to print new invoices and mail them to residents, but Gillette said city officials plan to ask the computer company that installed the software to pay the costs.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), February 22, 2000