Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tax collections up, but budget tight
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors got good news last week. Property tax collections were up by February 1, the deadline for property owners to pay their taxes without suffering a penalty.
Tax collector Betty Byrd provided the financial update. Year 2010 tax collections so far have come to about $11 million as of January 10 with 12,773 cash transactions taking place at the tax office. Last year by January 10, $9.4 million had been collected with a total of 11,153 transactions, she said.
“That’s $1.6 million up from last year this time,” she said. “Six million goes to the county, $1 million to the municipalities, and $3.5 million to schools (both school districts).”
This is the largest tax collection and number of cash transactions ever, Byrd said.
The remainder went to the State of Mississippi.
The February tax deadline brings in a large portion of the property tax owed. The August tax sale will bring in the balance of what tax payers have not paid by the sale date.
Property owners may pay their taxes at any time but they become delinquent by February 2 each year and fines and interest are added to the property tax bill when they are paid after the deadline.
Individuals who cannot come up with their total tax bill at once can make arrangements to pay in installments. Call the tax collector’s office for help in scheduling tax installment payments at 662-252-3661.
Citizens can pay their taxes or purchase tags at two offices, the main office on Market Street in Holly Springs and at the Byhalia Substation on Highway 309 North.
Supervisors heard a point of caution from chancery clerk Chuck Thomas. He reminded supervisors that the large property tax collection should not be mistaken by departments as a sign to spend. The tax revenues have to stretch to October, he said.
“Don’t be confused by the early collections,” he said. “It just means more people paid their taxes on time. That was budgeted funds that come in to us a little earlier than normal.”
A budget crunch could be in the offing if the board does not take care to restrain spending early in the fiscal year, he said. The county has less carryover of funds on October 1 each year than in previous years because of difficult economic times.
Thomas restated his concerns at the February 14 meeting of the board. He said mid-month claims can be low at one moment then claims the next month will be high.
“You all may want to consider amending the budget,” he said. “You may have to go in and cut the budget again. The beginning cash is not there. We had a freeze on spending and no one is adhering to it.”
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