The good news for Franklin County Collector Doug Trentmann is as of 10 a.m. Monday his office had collected $7.5 million in personal property and real estate taxes.
The bad news is the thousands of calls the office has fielded regarding the look of the new tax bills received by residents last week.
“We’ve had thousands of calls,” Trentmann said. “Seems like everyone who received a bill has called about it.”
At issue is the look of the new personal property bills and some requiring multiple pages to list all of the vehicles or other items the individual is being taxed on.
“This was a completely unintended design flaw,” Trentmann said. “It was a matter of putting data from the old computer system onto the new bills. There wasn’t enough room in the box, so some needed more than one page to list everything. The most I’ve heard about is four pages.”
Trentmann added since some bills are multiple pages, residents think it is two separate bills.
“The total is listed on each page, but it is the same,” Trentmann said. “The big key on the bills is the account number printed in red. The account number on each page is the same and the totals are correct. As long as you pay the amount listed on the bill, you’re good.”
Trentmann added the number on the upper right corner of the bills is simply a printing number assigned by the printing company.
If a bill has multiple pages, the page number and total of pages will be printed on the bill as well.
“The bills have a new look, but they are doing the same thing,” Trentmann said. “If there are errors I would like to see them.”
Trentmann again apologized for getting tax bills out later than usual this year due to implementing a new computer system for the collector’s office.
“I hate that this is a reassessment year when people’s bills went up and I gave them less time to get them paid,” Trentmann said.
Mailing issues have compounded frustrations, but those were out of Trentmann’s hands.
“All of the bills were mailed the 15th and 16th (in November),” he said. “Residents in Union had their bills Tuesday. We started getting calls that Pacific had one bill but not the other, and Sullivan was dealing with the same thing. I don’t know what happened at the post office.
“We had one tax bill mailed to Georgia and they got it last Monday,” Trentmann said. “They overnighted their payment and we had it Tuesday. We started getting a lot of payments from Union residents the next day on Wednesday.”
Trentmann said Monday morning of this week, the line outside his office was stretched as far as he could see with people waiting to pay their bills.
“So far, we’ve collected $7.5 million,” Trentmann said. “A lot of them have been electronic payments from banks.”
Just a week before the already delayed tax bills were sent to go out, the collector’s office was still implementing a new computer system and it was finally put online Tuesday, Nov. 12.
The new computer system allows the collector’s staff to combine multiple tax charges for each resident into one transaction and place them in a virtual shopping cart just like an online shopping website.
The totals are then combined electronically and the resident is given the overall total to pay.
Trentmann said he didn’t want to send out the bills until the county had a way to collect the money residents would be paying.
Beginning as far back as 2017, the county commission began the process of updating the computer systems for county departments.
Cost constraints and testing led to fewer and fewer departments initializing a new system. The collector’s office is the only one that is currently being upgraded and at a cost exceeding $1 million.
The total charges this year for real estate, personal property, and railroad and utilities combined is $127,158,258 being mailed out in 70,473 bills for real estate and an additional 44,641 personal property tax bills.
One benefit of the new computer system is allowing residents to view their tax charges online for the first time.
Trentmann said the tax charges can be found on the right-hand side of the main Franklin County website www.franklinmo.org.
“It doesn’t look that fancy right now and it is only real estate,” Trentmann said. “We are still working out bugs, but the only way to test it is for people to use it.”