By Lynn A. Wade
Nevada Daily Mail
By now, Vernon County property owners should have received real estate and personal property tax statements, and Vernon County Collector Phil Couch said that "if they don't, there's some sort of problem. They should be getting in touch with us."
Tax statements were mailed in bulk the day after the election, on Nov. 7. Couch said several people already have contacted the office about missing bills -- many of which had been sent to incorrect addresses. Since a 911 addressing system was put into place a couple of years ago, many addresses have changed, and the collector's office is still dealing with about 30 to 50 address changes daily, he noted.
"We've had a lot of inquiries. Some have an incorrect address; some have a correct address. We don't really know what the problem is for those who have a correct address," Couch said.
Either way, the office will be glad to help straighten out any billing issues.
Upon receipt of the tax bill, property owners should inspect it to be sure it's correct, especially with regard to vehicles. "Make sure it's what they owned on Jan. 1 of this year."
Couch encourages property owners with incorrect information on tax bills to address the issue sooner rather than later. The deadline is Dec. 31 -- a Monday, this year; and although he expects the last few days of the previous week to be the busiest, the busiest day in the Collector's Office could be Dec. 31.
"If you wait until the last day, it's never pretty."
Making such a change is a multi-step process, and can take a couple of hours at peak times. Taxpayers must first record the change with the Vernon County Assessor's Office, then it goes to the Vernon County Clerk's Office, and finally, the Collector's Office can prepare a bill. "It doesn't just happen automatically. A lot of times the staff can't devote 100 percent of their time to that one customer," so there's waiting involved, Sometimes we can get it done in about 10 minutes," if it isn't done at a peak time, so it pays to come in as early as possible to address problems, Couch said.
Another thing Couch stressed is that anyone who purchased real estate and didn't get a bill should contact the office right away. "Sometimes it goes to the previous owner," or an address is incorrect, and if property owners wait until the last minute, they could end up missing the deadline and paying a penalty.
So far, collections have gone fairly smoothly. "For about the first 10 days it was very busy, but it's slowed down, now. Right now is a good time to pay," because in most cases customers can get in and out very quickly.
Couch noted there are several ways to pay. Taxpayers can pay their bills by mail, in person at the main collector's office on the second floor of the Vernon County Courthouse, by check only at the collector's "express" office, located across from the vending machines on the first floor of the courthouse, by leaving payment in the drop box on the northeast corner of the courthouse parking lot, or online.
Couch noted that credit and debit cards are accepted in the office and online, but a 3-percent fee is charged for credit card payments, and a 1.5-percent fee is charged for debit card payments whether they're made online or in person. Called a convenience fee, "that fee doe not go to the county," but to the service company that processes the payments, Couch said.