Don't expect a property tax rebate in time for Christmas.
That word came from county officials reviewing a state order that refunds of the homestead exemption be given to qualifying Putnam County property owners.
Auditor Stephanie Campbell and Deputy Treasurer Sharon Freeman are saying it could be a few weeks before property owners see any rebate checks in the mail, and some will be disappointed with a refund of $0.
Once a person's rebate has been figured, Campbell said, the county must look for any delinquent taxes to be deducted from the amount. Some people could see a rebate for only pennies or a few dollars. And even those who are not owed a rebate must receive a check of $0, Campbell said, with an explanation that their rebate was used to pay the delinquent amount.
"It would have been easier to allow us to do a credit to next year's property taxes, and the Auditor's Association asked for that," Campbell said.
However, state officials want people to see that money coming back to them.
The auditor has until Dec. 20 to get the information for the rebates figured and turned over to the Treasurer's Office, which will then look for delinquencies. And that could take a few weeks.
It is likely that people will not see their rebate checks until 2008, Campbell said. That means it will have to be claimed on their 2008 income taxes, she noted.
Putnam County has already received the $1,163,000 from the state in extra tax relief that is meant to blunt big property tax increases seen by many homeowners this year. But it will cost an estimated $11,000 for county officials to get those checks in the mail.
Campbell said it will cost $6,000 for the auditor's software company to apply the formula to the property tax system to set up the rebate amounts.
"If we don't purchase the software, then we will have to go through around 30,000 parcels by hand and calculate what the rebate check would be and then generate a check for them," she said.
To pay for the additional postage will take about $5,000, she said, and to pay for the additional checks and envelops needed will take about $2,000.
All of those associated costs are due to the state mandate, Campbell told the Putnam County Council at its Tuesday meeting.
Those additional costs cannot be taken out of the $1.16 million amount, she noted, and whatever is leftover from the rebate amount will have to be returned to the state.