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County property taxes overdue

Escambia County property owners with unpaid 2010 taxes may soon be getting a new tax bill in the mail.

Escambia County Tax Collector Joy Wiggins said delinquent bills for unpaid property taxes were being mailed last week.

“We sent out delinquent bills Friday,” Wiggins said. “The amounts listed on that bill will be good through the last day of February.”

Wiggins said the total amount of property taxes collected so far might be better than seen in the previous year at this point in the collection season.

“We are probably a little bit ahead of where we usually are at this point,”

Wiggins said. “I feel really good about collections so far. I think things will continue to go well.”

As of September when notices for taxes were originally mailed to property owners more than $14 million was due to the county. Wiggins said as of last week’s deadline, 89 percent of taxes due had been paid.

“We had a total of $14,240,082.10 in total taxes due as of September,”

Wiggins said. “We have collected $12,725,100.83 so far. That’s a pretty good amount of what was owed originally.”

Wiggins said those who have not paid their property taxes would now face additional charges and fees since the payment deadline has passed.

“We had extended the deadline to Jan. 3,” Wiggins said. “Our offices were closed on Friday, Dec. 31 so we allowed property owners that extra business day to pay their taxes. For those that haven’t paid, there are going to be some extra charges on their bills.”

In addition to the original property tax amount, owners will now be assessed an additional 3 percent of the amount as well as a $5 collector’s fee,

Wiggins said.

“Those fees will stay in place through the end of February when additional delinquent notices will be mailed,” Wiggins said. “Those bills that go unpaid in February will see new charges added in March. There will be an additional 1 percent added and another $10 in collector’s fees to the amount originally owed on the tax bill. There will also be a certified mail fee added to the bill since those March notices will be sent by certified mail.”

Wiggins said property owners would have been given ample opportunities to pay their property taxes to the county before being placed on the auction block for sale.

“We will advertise the names and amounts of those unpaid property taxes in

April which will add more fees to the original amount,” Wiggins said. “If the bill goes unpaid at that point, the property will be put up for sale in

May.”

Wiggins said property with unpaid taxes would be sold at public auction on the front steps of the Escambia County Courthouse in May. She said that’s not what the county wants to see happen.

“We don’t want to have to sell anyone’s property to pay their taxes,”

Wiggins said. “It’s bad when we have to do that. If, for some reason, the property isn’t sold at the auction through the bidding process, the property is then sold to the State of Alabama. We don’t want to see that happen. When we sell that property to the State it takes all revenue from the county until that bill is satisfied. That’s not something we want to see happen.”

Wiggins said collections of taxes might be a representation of how some people have aligned their priorities.

“It used to be that people paid their property taxes before they paid other things,” Wiggins said. “I think that people have their priorities different these days.”

For those property owners wishing to pay their bills, the Escambia County

Tax Collector’s office is located on the main floor of the Escambia County Courthouse on Belleville Avenue. The office can be reached at 867-0304 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.