Tax woes due to human error: County manager says computer not to blame

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A miscalculation in the Lincoln County Tax Assessor/Collector’s Office that will cost the county tax revenues was not a computer software error, according to the county manager.

County Manager David Fields said the miscalculation resulted in total assessed property values being listed as several million dollars too high.  The board set the current millage rate too low based on the incorrect assessed values, resulting in a loss of tax revenue to the county. If the county keeps the current millage rate the same in the new budget year, it would take in $531,000 less in tax revenue based on accurate assessed value totals.

Tax Assessor/Collector Rita Goss said the mistake was due to an error by Delta Computer Systems, a company that provides computing applications for county governments. While Delta Computer Systems declined to comment on Monday, Fields said the miscalculation was not an error with DCS software. Fields said: “No, the software was not the problem.”

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Goss was not available for comment Monday.

The Board of Supervisors sets the millage rate based on total assessed property values and estimates how much the county will receive in tax revenues.

Whether the county will be short roughly half a million dollars when the current fiscal year ends in September is unknown, Fields said Monday.

“If we’re going to be short, we don’t know yet,” Fields said. “But everything’s looking fine right now with total revenues. We may be a little short on our tax levy because of that miscalculation, we’ll look at what we bring in and see if it covers cost of operation, which it [looks like it will.]”

Fields said generally each year the county collects more taxes than it levied for, and that at the end of the fiscal year there are generally some unexpected revenues. The lost tax revenue could be offset by these or other revenues and result in a balanced budget — albeit one that could have seen more in tax revenue if the miscalculation had not been made.

The Board of Supervisors could either cut the budget in some areas to offset the loss or raise taxes. Fields said it would take an increase of 2.19 mills to generate $531,000 in tax revenue.

If Lincoln County’s millage rate increased 2.19 mills, someone with property valued at $100,000 would see an increase of $21.90 on their tax bill.

Board of Supervisors President Eddie Brown said the board is strongly against raising the millage rate and, as it stands, there will not be a millage rate increase.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that a tax bill would increase about $200 if the millage rate increased by 2.19 mills.