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Delinquencies soar 9.7%

But not as much as huge increase last year

Managing editor

Recession continues to affect county taxpayers with more than $400,000 in unpaid taxes.

With a less-than-10-percent increase from last year, a total of $401,827 in property taxes were unpaid July 31, the deadline for avoiding inclusion on the list beginning on page 11 in this newspaper. Last year, $366,198 was unpaid by that time.

Although 96 percent paid their taxes on time, it continues to be difficult.

“Times still are tough,” Treasurer Jeannine Bateman said. “More people are signing up for the escrow program.”

Implemented a few years ago, there are 244 active participants in the program — nearly double from a year ago.

Another change Bateman and her staff have seen is credit cards being used more, particularly near the July 31 deadline.

“Debit and credit cards are more widely used each year but this year people seemed to turn toward credit cards,” she said, “especially nearing the deadlines.”

This year’s total comes from 489 parcels, compared with 462 last year.

Hillsboro led the cities with the most delinquent taxes of $101,965 spread over 76 parcels. Marion also had 76 parcels at $68,691 in delinquencies. Peabody was a close third with 59 parcels accumulating $63,095 in back taxes.

Anyone interested in the escrow program should contact the treasurer’s office at (620) 382-2180.

Taxpayers can join the program at any time but it doesn’t mean they’re off the hook regarding delinquent taxes.

Other payment arrangements can be made, Bateman said, and her department is willing to work with taxpayers to ease the burden.

Last modified Aug. 12, 2010

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