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Tardy taxpayers may get extra fees
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Gainesville property owners who still owe their 2008 property taxes may be paying more.

With more than 200 delinquent property tax bills and fewer employees to hunt them down, the city has plans to contract out collection efforts on unpaid property tax bills.

But a planned collection contract with Government Tax Services won’t mean more city spending in a budget crunch. Instead, those the collection service hunts down will foot the bill, meaning extra fees of up to $65.

A memo to the City Council from Gainesville’s Financial Services Manager Beverly Williams warns tha a large number of delinquent bills may mean that Gainesville holds its first tax sale in seven years this summer.

Williams told council members Thursday that, at this time in a normal year, the city only has about 50 uncollected payments from real property taxes due the prior year.

But Thursday, the number of uncollected bills from 2008 topped 230. And the staff responsible for collecting them is leaner.

“Because of the sheer number of properties remaining, coupled with the fact that our tax office is significantly shorthanded due to illnes and furlough requirements, we have looked at alternatives in handling the collection of these taxes,” Williams wrote.

Williams said the department chose Government Tax Services to handle the delinquent bills after consulting with Hall County officials who have reportedly used the service to collect delinquent bills for 10 years. She said more than 60 counties and municipalities in the state use the service.

Government Tax Services charges mailing costs and labor fees in a flat fee that is passed on to the delinquent taxpayer.

Williams said the fees range from $15 to $65 per taxpayer.

The plan awaits approval of the City Manager’s office.