BENTON - As the year winds down to its close, county collectors are again seeing their busiest season with the deadline to pay property taxes on time drawing near.
Collections in Scott County "seem like they're going pretty good," according to Collector Mark Hensley. "The mail has been extremely heavy and walk-in traffic picked up today."
The Mississippi County collector's office has also been "quite busy" with the year-end rush, according to Collector Faye Elliot. "It has been pretty busy every morning and then it slows down."
Elliot said she sees her first rush in November right after the tax statements go out. "Some people who pay right when they get their bill - that's the older generation," said Elliot. "Then we have a lull."
The busiest time for collectors' offices, however, are the days between Christmas and the end of the year. "We get real heavy," Elliot said.
While Scott and Mississippi counties are seeing similar numbers as compared with last year at this time, changes in New Madrid County's collector's office are already having a positive effect.
"We're actually running several hundred thousand ahead of last year - we're having a good December," reported Dewayne Nowlin, collector of revenue for New Madrid County.
He explained changes have allowed his office to process mail more efficiently. "We're processing mail much quicker. It's working a lot smoother this year."
The New Madrid County office is getting more mail than window traffic so far, Nowlin said, and they are readying themselves for "that last big surge" from Dec. 31 mailings although he does expect to see some lines form today and Tuesday. "Our windows will probably be pretty packed those days."
Hensley said many taxpayers avoid the lines by sending their payment by mail: "Instead of fighting the line, just mail it."
"As long as its marked Dec. 31 we take it without any interest or penalty," Nowlin said.
Not all of the last-day payments are made because of procrastination, however. Companies with the largest bills often intentionally delay payment until the last day so they can collect as much interest as possible. "The majority of them wait till last minute to pay," said Nowlin. "We'll do several million dollars on the 31st."
Hensley advised area taxpayers that have not received their tax statement yet to call their local collector as they still will only have until closing time Tuesday to avoid interest and penalties.
Area residents who fail to pay their taxes or send them off by then will have an additional 2 percent interest plus a 5-percent penalty.
An additional 2 percent is added for each month late up to a total of 18 percent as shown on the tax statement.
"Look to the right and it will tell them if they wait till that particular month to pay it how much their taxes will be at that time," Nowlin said.
Office hours at the Scott County Courthouse are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.; the collector's office in Mississippi County is open from 8:30-11:30 p.m. and from noon until 5 p.m.; and New Madrid County courthouse hours are from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., closed an hour from noon until 1 p.m. for lunch.
Those with questions regarding their property taxes are encouraged to call their county's collector and ask.