Washington County’s posted 2021 budget shows 1.8% growth in property tax revenue despite the commissioners’ waiver of 2020 tax penalties this year due to the economic downturn related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 general fund budget of $104.2 million, which became available for public inspection Wednesday afternoon, is based on a tax levy of 2.43 mills, which has been in place since the most recent countywide reassessment took effect in 2017.
In May, the commissioners voted unanimously to do away with a six-month penalty period on county property taxes and extended the discount payment period for a month.
County taxes would normally be paid at what is known as “face amount” through June 30, with a 10% penalty being added for those who paid property taxes from July 1 through Dec. 31.
But this year, no penalties are being assessed for taxes paid in full during the remainder of this calendar year. Despite publicity, the information didn’t reach everyone, and, over the summer, county Treasurer Tom Flickinger felt compelled to ask people not to pay penalties because refunding overpayments was creating additional work for his staff.
Construction of new buildings and structural upgrades added to the tax rolls $740,082 in county property tax revenue.
“There’s typically an increase from year to year just because new properties have come on, so that’s not uncommon,” said Joshua Hatfield, Washington County finance director.
So the county is receiving less than its estimated $160,000 in tax penalties. In 2019, penalties actually brought in $176,802.
“All of our estimates will change because we’ll do a second projection with November’s figures for both revenues and expenses,” he said.
Not reflected in the posted budget is approximately $18.68 million Washington County received from the county relief block grant from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act signed into law in late March.
It will be noted in the final budget scheduled for adoption at the commissioners’ final meeting of the year on Thursday, Dec. 17.
“I do anticipate changes between posted and adoption, but I hope they will all be decreases,” Hatfield said. “I don’t expect any sizable increases.”