WALLA WALLA — With bugs in converting to new software exterminated, property tax statements should begin going out Friday to Walla Walla County property owners, a hopeful county Treasurer Gordon Heimbigner said Wednesday.
The statements have been sent to Master Touch Printers in Spokane, which will also be mailing the documents out, Heimbigner said. Walla Walla County’s statements had been scheduled for printing earlier, but because of the setbacks in preparing them “our spot in the line is when they can squeeze us in,” Heimbigner said.
According to Heimbigner and Debbie Bennett, chief deputy treasurer, the tax statements has been delayed this year as computer technicians struggled to convert files from a 14-year old system to a new software system.
“It’s been like taking an old WordPerfect document and converting it to an Excel file,” Heimbigner said.
But the changeover will result in property owners receiving one consolidated statement instead of separate statements for each piece of property. An example would be a person who has 14 properties. In the past that person would get 14 separate statements mailed to him, one for each piece of property.
“Now he’ll just get one mailing,” Heimbigner said.
The new software system from Harris True Automation cost $332,027 in a purchase county commissioners approved July 16, 2013.
Because fewer statements will have to be mailed out, the new system is expected to save money, Heimbigner said, but exactly how much is unknown at this time.
“We don’t know how many people will be getting one or two page (statements) as opposed to getting 14 pages of statements,” he said.
Bennett said another feature of the new statements that might cause confusion will be the amounts listed as owed for the first half payment versus the second half payment. The first half payment might be higher because assessments of less than $50 will be included in the first half, meaning the amount listed as owed in the second half will be less.
April 30 remains the deadline for first part of property tax payments. By statute, the Treasurer’s Office must have tax statements to property owners 30 days before payments are due, so even with the delays the notices should arrive in time, Heimbigner said.
Andy Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.