Tax collections down as tough economy strains local businesses
October 22, 2010
Many businesses struggled to pay their personal property taxes this year, another indicator that the economic downturn still has a stronghold on the community.
“This year the economy is really poor and businesses are having difficulties,” said Grand County Treasurer Christina Whitmer.
Just a few weeks ago, the treasurer thought the worst was in store for several area businesses – the “dramatic experience of locking somebody out and seizing private property inside,” Whitmer said.
“When you have to do something like collect personal property taxes, it’s devastating to me and the community and everyone who sees it. It’s a big negative,” she said.
To help avoid this, the county treasurer’s office is able to offer payment plans to businesses on the brink.
“More businesses are on plans than in the past,” Whitmer said. Those on plans include six of Grand County’s largest businesses. “We’re hoping they stay on the payment plans,” she said.
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Payment plans are an option in personal property taxes, but not an option for real property taxes or mobile homes.
The treasurer was forced to threaten distraint warrants to many other businesses who did not take up the payment-plan option.
Come Thursday, Whitmer said she was pleased to report that “every one of them came in and paid. We didn’t have to close anybody up.”
The treasurer added that there is some loss because four businesses have “disappeared,” or have closed doors and left the county without paying.
Meanwhile, delinquent real property tax notices are up 30 percent this year, according to the treasurer.
Yet because 1,500 properties went to tax sale last year and those who bid on them have the option to pay their taxes again, tax sale numbers are lower this year.
Foreclosures are trending the same as last year, which was considered the highest rate of foreclosure in Grand County history. There were 254 foreclosures last year; as of this October, there are 200.