Clay County has received its certified budget order and property tax bills will be sent out soon.
Typically, the state certifies county budgets in February, but due to trending and reassessment, the process was delayed this year.
"Approximately only about half of the counties in the state have received their certified budgets," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said. "The effects of trending and reassessment have delayed the process of collecting property taxes throughout the state, not just here in Clay County."
The county still needs to prepare the abstract taxes for the county. This is an anticipation of what the county believes it will collect in property taxes. It will then be sent to the state auditor for approval, which needs to occur before property tax bills are mailed to residents.
"After receiving approval from the state auditor, we will also print the collection rates in the paper three times for the public's knowledge," Alumbaugh said. "We are anticipating to have the property tax bills sent out by the first part of August."
In a normal year, tax bills are paid in two installments; one in May and one in November. Even with the delay, some counties are still setting up a two-payment system, but Clay County will attempt to avoid the tight proximity of payments.
"The county is going to petition the Department of Local Government Finance to have only one tax collection period in November," Alumbaugh said. "We don't want to push for two payments so close together, so residents can pay their property taxes in one lump sum, although they can still come in prior to the due date to pay portions of the tax as they please after they receive their bill."
The tax rate is down slightly in all districts around the county, with the exception of Clay City, but it is likely residents will see a significant increase in their property tax bill. Assessed property values are expected to go up with this being the first parcel-to-parcel reassessment period the state has gone through since 1995, and the change of reassessment values to true market value.
"The state sets a levy limit on how much property tax each county can collect, which increases slightly each year," Alumbaugh said. "So even though the tax rate may go down, if assessed property values increase significantly, residents can expect an increase in their tax bills as well."
The state does have a Property Tax Replacement Credit, which reduces tax bills to some extent.
To figure property taxes with the credit, multiply the assessed value of your property and the district rate. Then multiply the result by the replacement credit rate, which will give you the amount to subtract from the original amount to determine the amount of taxes to expect.
For example, if a property's assessed value is $75,000 and the tax rate is $2.5 dollars per $100 of assessed value, the original amount of property tax owed would be $1,875. But with a replacement rate of 0.30, the reduction would be $562.50, leaving the resident with a property tax bill of $1,312.50.
"However, the replacement credit has also gone down this year," Alumbaugh said. "The state is slowly phasing the credit out in order to collect more in property taxes."
There are other credits available to reduce tax bills even further, but they do not apply to everyone.
"For businesses there is a personal property tax credit, and for those who own, not rent their home, there is a State Homestead Tax Credit," Alumbaugh said. "However, they are not automatically included in the calculation of property taxes. Residents must apply for the other credits."
The business tax credit must be applied for through the state, but the Homestead Tax Credit can be applied for locally.
Members of county offices are willing to help residents with their tax bills and maximize the amount of tax credits they can receive.
"We will help residents find as many credits to apply for and answer any questions they may have about their tax bills," Alumbaugh said. "We are always willing to help all the residents of Clay County."
For questions about tax bills or to apply for tax credits, call the Clay County Auditor's Office at 812-118-9001.