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March 18, 2017

Commission approves prepayment of property taxes


Tracey Wolfe
Grainger Today Editor

RUTLEDGE – Grainger County commissioners voted to approve a resolution proposed by Grainger County Trustee Rena Greer to allow the trustee’s office to offer prepayment of property taxes to Grainger County citizens.
Greer addressed commissioners during Monday’s meeting, and told commissioners many taxpayers have asked for a prepayment option.
She said to participate in the prepayment option taxpayers would be required to fill out a form to request payment of taxes in advance, and payment amounts would be set up to fulfill the total tax payment by February to avoid interest and penalties. She said payments could be set up monthly, quarterly or on a schedule chosen by the taxpayer.
She said taxes would be estimated based upon the previous year’s tax rate, and adjustments would be made to payment amounts to account for a tax rate increase during the year. Customers would be required to sign a form acknowledging they understand the payment amount could change based upon a tax rate increase.
Greer said the current software in use by the trustee’s office has the capability to allow her department to offer the prepayment option, and to offer Automatic Clearing House (ACH) transfer of the monthly payment amount from property owner’s bank accounts.
Greer said she and her staff have found many younger people don’t use checks, and the cost of electronic transaction fees charged to process payments by credit or debit cards makes electronic payments impractical for some taxpayers.
“We would have numerous amounts of electronic payments, but as a government entity, we cannot pay the credit card companies their processing fees, so it has to be charged off to the customers,” Greer said. “It’s 2.75 percent, and that hinders some of them, but we’re finding that most younger people don’t use checks.”
She said the option for ACH transfer may not be able to be offered during this year, due to the time it might take to get the option set up.
Greer said once the commission approved the resolution, a letter of approval would be sent to the state comptroller’s office for its approval. Once the comptroller’s office has given its approval, the software utilized by the trustee’s office would be set up to manage the payments.
Greer said receipts will be given to property owners for payments as they are made.
A motion by Commissioner Andy Cameron to approve the resolution was seconded by Commissioner Becky Johnson. The motion passed unanimously in a roll call vote.

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