The Island County treasurer told county commissioners this month that the backlog of unprocessed property supplements will take at least another month to complete.
“It has created some very difficult situations, which is why I have as many people working on it and they are working overtime to get them done,” Treasurer Ana Maria Nuñez said at a recent work session.
Supplemental taxes are additional secured taxes that are due when property undergoes a change in ownership or new construction. The additional tax is owed because the county assessor is required to immediately adjust the Jan. 1 value to reflect the new value of the property. The supplemental tax is due upon the mailing of the bill. It is payable in two installments.
An audit finding last year determined that the county was backlogged on processing property tax supplements because “Island County lacked adequate internal controls to ensure timely processing of property tax adjustments.”
Nuñez told county commissioners last year that the supplements would be caught up by June. But this month, Nunez said they will not be completed until July.
Nuñez said her office has struggled with keeping up with the property supplements since she started in 2005.
Nuñez said the county was on the verge of catching up by 2008, but the recession forced the county to lay off employees, including one full-time worker in the treasurer’s office, followed by another in 2009.
While her office has made good progress on the backlog, Nunez said a staff member took some unexpected leave, and that contributed to the delay.
Commissioner Helen Price Johnson stressed the need to get caught up as soon as possible.
“I continue to hear from people who are frustrated waiting for their supplement to be processed,” Price Johnson said. “As the real estate market has heated up, the more trouble and complications it creates.”
In early 2012, Island County commissioners authorized a full-time employee dedicated to addressing the county’s backlog. And in budget talks for the 2014 year, the board authorized continuing that position to ensure the backlog is addressed.