BENTON -- Scott County residents will see their tax bills a little earlier this year.
"They should receive them this weekend," said Mark Hensley, collector of revenue for the county. "They're going out Friday. Normally they go out around the 10th of November."
Hensley said there were a combination of things that made it possible to send the tax bills out early.
"The tax rates were in early this year - all the data came in early. We weren't waiting on tax rates from any taxing entities," Hensley said. "Everything went smoothly."
Innovations such as computers also "help speed up the process," Hensley noted. To produce the tax bills, real estate property statements and personal property statements are run separately then combined along with a calculator tape showing the math for the taxpayer's total bill.
"Another reason why they're early this year is there's a new drainage district that was formed," Hensley said. "We wanted to get this information out to the taxpayer as soon as possible. That way if they have any questions they can contact the drainage district about the charges. I have a list of contacts for the new district along with all the drainage districts in the county available."
Those who formerly paid taxes to one of the county's ditch districts - Ditch 2, Ditch 5, Ditch 6, Ditch 10, Ditch 15 - will now find themselves billed for the Consolidated Drainage District No. 2 instead.
"It just consolidated those county ditches into one (district)," Hensley said. "It includes almost the entire east half of the county except for the northeast corner. It is the largest drainage district."
The drainage district was consolidated in 2003 and annexed some additional areas the following year, so there will be some residents paying a ditch tax to Consolidated No. 2 who have never had to pay a ditch tax in the past.
For Consolidated No. 2, "2005 is the first year taxpayers will be paying on a per-benefit basis," Hensley said.
The Little River Drainage District along the west side of the county, the Richland Drainage District in the southwest area of the county, the Big Lake Drainage District in the northeast corner and the Consolidated Drainage District No. 1 in the central-west area of the county all remain the same along with the Levee District No. 2 in the east part of the county.
Those who purchased a home during the year they did not own on Jan. 1 need to know they still owe taxes on it - unlike personal property that wouldn't be on the books until the next year - even if they don't get a bill.
"The tax bill will still come out in that original owner's name," Hensley said. The tax bill is also likely to be sent to the original owner.
"If you bought a house and did not receive a bill forwarded to you, you need to contact my office and I'll send you a copy of that original statement," Hensley said. "That statement will still have the original owner's name on it, but it's your bill."
Those in the R-6 School District will definitely see a higher tax bill as the school tax rate was raised by the voters.
Even though tax rates were not increased for those in the county outside the R-6 School District, taxpayers should prepare themselves for the possibility that their tax bill may have increased due to another factor: "This was a reassessment year," Hensley noted. "If the valuation was increased, then you very well may have an increase in taxes."
If there is any question about the valuation for real estate or personal property owned, residents should contact the assessor's office to correct any errors. The assessor then passes on the corrected information to the collector, "and I will bill you accordingly," Hensley said.
Those who live in an incorporated municipality should also know they should receive two tax bills - one for the county and the other for their city.
Not receiving a tax bill does not relieve the taxpayer from the responsibility to pay their taxes or any interest and penalty if the taxes become delinquent, according to Hensley. Those who don't receive a tax bill by Dec. 15 should contact the collector's office. All unpaid taxes are delinquent after Dec. 31.