Tax woes continue

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, December 19, 2018

in the county are due Dec. 20 for the second half of fiscal year 2018-19.

Previously, the original Dec. 5 due date was extended to Dec. 20.

Charlotte County Treasurer Patricia Berkeley previously said by law, individuals are required to have at least 14 days to pay. “We feel like it’s in the best interest of the citizens to at least give them 30 days. It’s not their fault that we’re in the situation we’re still in carrying over from last year being late.”

A motion was made during a Nov. 7 special called meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors to allow 30 additional days to pay real estate and personal property taxes without penalty after the bills are mailed.

“We are still struggling,” said Berkeley.

She said address issues continue to be a concern for the office after the tax bills for the first half of the fiscal year 2018-19 billing cycle included inaccurate addresses.

“The printers failed to update their system after I sent them instructions to do so,” Berkeley said.

She said as a result, the same individuals who had address issues in June again received incorrect billing.

Berkeley said if duplicate bills were received, “the printers … admitted it was their error. They re-mailed … at their cost, nothing to the county.”

She said issues are still being encountered.

She said it was unprofessional and the citizens did not deserve it.

Berkeley said it was very chaotic in her office at the time and “people are paying bills they shouldn’t be paying and it’s just not right, and it’s very frustrating to me. I don’t like the way it’s turned out.”

She said, however, it was out of their control.

Berkeley said proofs from the printers were checked after being received, however, checking is done at random and what was checked appeared to be correct.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t find one that was in error before we gave them the final proof that day …” she said.

The real estate and personal property tax bills problems stem from a previous conversion to an updated software program called Breeze.

Berkeley said she thought the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors should look at the time and costs associated with the use of the Breeze system.

“It’s been a lot more involved than we ever anticipated,” said Berkeley previously.

She said the tax bills system was updated after the county has been using the same company, RDA systems, since 1994.

“This conversion has been totally different,” she said at that time. “. . . We’ve experienced a lot of delays.”

Charlotte County was the beta test site for the software.

She said about 2,000 mailed payments have been received.

“In the past, we were able to finish all the mailed payments within four business days after the deadline…” Berkeley.

However, she said the office is not able to do it because the system is much slower.

“There are other address issues as well that we’re trying to fix …” Berkeley said.

She also said the same printer has been used since 2009, however, address issues did not occur until the software system update.

Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. Hamlett, Jr. asked was it a printer’s issue or a software issue?

“It’s the software …” Berkeley said.

She said although, the printer did not follow her instructions.

“They have admitted to it …” Berkeley said. “We didn’t have address issues like this until we converted … it’s just been a headache to all of us.”

Hamlett said he’d first like to see if an RFP could be put out to find another vendor.

“There’s one ready to go, I have given my approval and what I think should be in for my office …” she said.

Berkeley said she was trying to wait until the first of the year to give RDA Systems an opportunity to correct problems with the system.

“My understanding was that RDA had a list of things that they were to accomplish by the end of December,” said County Administrator Daniel Witt.

He said a sit down would be held with RDA Systems to see what the company thought instead of how the county feels.

“We know right now we’re dissatisfied, but we’re still going to have another meeting? …” asked Phenix/Aspen Supervisor Donna Fore.

Berkeley said the county could not continue to live in the current environment.

“This is not working, it’s just time to cut the cords …” said Fore.