Late notices going out to delinquent Bibb County taxpayers

pramati@macon.comNovember 24, 2013 

The deadline for 2013 property tax collections in Bibb County has come and gone, and about 85 percent of the tax due has been paid.

Tax collections across the county to date have been consistent with recent years, Tax Commissioner Tommy Tedders said. His office has collected $116,387,275, or 84.8 percent of the levy due.

“Based on what we’ve seen, there were very little changes, if any,” he said. “Generally, we know what it’s going to be.”

Bibb County has seen only about a half-percent to 1 percent growth in the last year, Tedders said, and the county’s tax digest -- the total taxable value of all property in the county -- has remained about the same since 2009. Tedders noted that none of the three taxing authorities -- Bibb County, Macon and the Bibb County Board of Education -- changed their millage rates.

His office is now sending notices to the residents who had not paid by Nov. 15. Every day the taxes are late, it’s a 1 percent penalty. After 30 days, the county can put a lien against the property.

Tedders said his office faced its share of challenges in 2013. For one, new computer software was installed, meaning officials had to get used to a new system.

In addition, the state changed the ad valorem automobile tax system in March. Rather than paying an automobile’s tax by each birthday, a resident who bought a vehicle after March 1 now pays a flat tax at the time of the purchase of 6.5 percent of the value of the vehicle. That rate will increase to 6.75 percent in 2014 and 7 percent in 2015.

The change in the law has proven confusing to residents, officials and car dealers, and Tedders said he gets frequent calls about the changes.

“This is the legislation, and I keep it within arm’s reach every day,” Tedders said with a chuckle, holding up a highlighted copy of the bill. “I attended practically every hearing when they were making the legislation. I get calls every week from other counties, the state, car dealers. I’ve become the de facto expert, I guess.”

With the city and county set to consolidate Jan. 1, Tedders said it won’t have any effect on how taxes are collected -- and little effect on how they are distributed from the two current governments to the one future one.

“We pay it out on a weekly basis,” he said.

Because of consolidation, tax rates for residents will likely change, however. Macon residents now pay separate city and county taxes, while residents in unincorporated areas pay county taxes and a fire tax.

Chris Floore, the spokesman for Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, said it will be up to the new government on whether current city and county residents pay the same rate going forward, or if there will be separate tax districts.

Tedders said he’s optimistic that tax collections will be simplified in 2014 for both his department and residents when his office moves to the former Capital City Bank building on Walnut Street, which the county purchased in June.

Tedders said the new office will be ready in the spring and will allow customers several time-saving options to pay their tax bills, including drive-through lanes, over-the-counter electronic payments and self-service payment kiosks.

“We’re real excited,” he said. “We’re looking to put in a lot of technology and features that will hopefully speed up the process.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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