Bill to allow monthly property tax payment passes

Local landowners could see the option go into effect by this fall.

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A bill that will allow landowners to make monthly payments on property taxes has passed the state Legislature.

The state Senate approved the bill Wednesday by a vote of 35-12 with two members absent. The measure, House Bill 2962, was approved by state representatives in February. The final version is now before Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, voted in favor of the bill Wednesday. In the state House, Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, and Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, also supported the measure.

The bill will allow county treasurers to offer prepayments for property taxes on a monthly or other periodic basis and, with the agreement of the taxpayer, have the payments automatically deducted from bank accounts.

Walla Walla County Treasurer Gordon Heimbigner, who was among supporters of the measure, said provided the governor signs the bill he hopes to have the system set up for local taxpayers in time for the second half of tax payments in October.

"I'll be notifying taxpayers about the opportunity and they'll need to sign a contract with us to provide banking information," he said today. People who want to join the program can call the treasurer's office now to be put on a list to be notified when the system is ready.

In testimony before the state House earlier this year, proponents of the measure argued that as well as providing the monthly payment option, the law will also help smooth county revenue streams and save mailing costs.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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