No one disputes that there were mistakes made in the way that property taxes have been calculated for Bourbon County. However, any reasonable person realizes that there are going to be at least some mistakes made in this line of work no matter how careful you are.
The big question is whether the process has been fixed. So lets take a look at an example of delinquent property that is showing it was brought current on 10/7/2010 a few weeks ago. Below is a screenshot from the tax search that raises some questions. This is for 2010 taxes. So $673.37 was due in December 20th of 2010 and the remaining $673.37 was due in May 10th, 2011. The tax rate should have been 7%, plus a $15 publication fee if the property were published in the paper.
The property is crossed out of the list that was originally sent to the paper. It is part of the addendum to the list (see the last page of the PDF), but the amount listed as owed is off by $1,000. So it was probably printed in the paper with the rest of the property that was left of because it was part of the payment plan. However, it was not in the payment plan contracts we received.
There was a payment of $1,346.74 toward the tax and $7.05 toward the interest and fees on 10/7/2011. The website is showing that the amount has been paid and that there is no longer an amount due. But the publication fee alone should have been $15.
For a rough idea of the interest that should have been charged, if we calculate 7% on the first half for January through September (10 months), it comes to $39.28 (673.37 * .07 / 12 * 10). If we calculate interest on the second portion from June through September (four months), it comes to $15.71 (673.37 * .07 / 12 * 4). That leaves off about 18 days of interest on the first payment and around 27 on the second payment. So the actual interest should be a bit higher if you calculate to the day instead of only including full months as I have done.
Still the total comes to $69.99 when you include the publication fee. So why is it only showing $7.05? One possibility is that payments were being made into an escrow account on the old system and the interest rate was based on the fact that a good portion of the principle was already paid. However, to only be charged $7.05 the interest would be for less than two full months on the December 20th half of the payment. In other word’s the property owner would have needed to pay almost all of the tax due except for a very small portion.
It is interesting to note that the list of delinquent taxes where this property was crossed off has the interest listed as $39 (the cents are obscured by a marker).
If the tax payer had done this, I would expect to see the December 20th half listed as paid as soon as the escrow account had enough money to pay it and given the very small amount of interest, this couldn’t have occurred any later than March. Perhaps the escrow accounts are setup to only bring the amount over, once the full tax has been paid. Even then the publication fee was not charged.
It is possible that the interest was calculated correctly and the publication fee was inadvertently omitted. The biggest problem here is that that process is not transparent and if you look at what is actually published on the website it looks like something is being done incorrectly. If the new system was being used to accept all the payments, it would be trivial for anyone to look and see exactly how the interest and fees had been calculated and how payments had been applied.