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Economic Uncertainty Means More Dane County Property Owners Falling Behind on Taxes

September 21, 2009
Dave Worzala, 266-4151 or Topf Wells, 266-9069
County Executive

County Treasurer: Tax Delinquencies Grow to More than $20-million Dane County has seen a dramatic increase in the number of property tax delinquencies in recent years. In tax year 2004, delinquencies at the end of the year were $6.5 million and rose to $16 million by Dec. 31, 2008. As the economy weakened, this trend continued in 2009, and the amount of delinquent taxes on September 1, 2009 was $20.3 million covering nearly 6,000 delinquent parcels. The growth in delinquencies is particularly important to the County because under the state property tax collection process all other jurisdictions (towns, villages, cities, school districts, and technical colleges) that rely on the property tax levy are paid regardless of whether the taxes are collected. The county essentially acts as a bank in this case, and bears the financial burden of outstanding amounts. It’s also the county’s responsibility to collect delinquencies. “I’m taking action on these growing delinquencies because it’s not only an issue of what is allowed by law but it also is an important issue of fairness to those who pay their property taxes on time,” County Treasurer Dave Worzala said. The Treasurer’s Office is currently undertaking a comprehensive delinquency initiative to reduce the amount of outstanding delinquent taxes. Those who owe back property taxes are being notified and properties that are more than three years delinquent will be subject to the tax deed process consistent with state statutes. Under statute, those more than three years in arrears on property taxes have 90 days to catch up. “The increase in delinquencies is one more reflection of the current significant recession. I have redirected additional county staff to the Treasurer’s Office to assist with his effort to collect the delinquencies,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said. # # #