By JOHN HOWELL What happened to the tax bills? It's a question property owners have been asking since the end of June. The answer has consistently been: the bills are online and viewable on the city website. In addition, bills paid by financial
What happened to the tax bills?
It’s a question property owners have been asking since the end of June. The answer has consistently been: the bills are online and viewable on the city website. In addition, bills paid by financial institutions as part of a homeowners’ monthly mortgage payment have been electronically transmitted and payments to the city are being made, meaning money is flowing into city coffers.
But what about the hard copies that come in the mail?
The answer on Friday is that they should be delivered by July 15, the very day the first quarterly payment is due. But fear not. The due date for the first quarterly payment has been extended until the end of the month.
Mayor Frank Picozzi made that clear in a Facebook post last week, writing: “There has been a delay in mailing tax bills due to a technical issue. All bills should be mailed by July 15th. A grace period will be granted until July 31st. We apologize for the delay.”
What happened, did someone forget to mail more than 70,000 bills?
It’s a little more complicated than that.
As has been the case since city personnel processed all tax payments and contracted with a lock box service that deposits checks soon after they are received – prior to the service it took city personnel weeks and even months to post payments – return envelopes with a Boston address are provided with tax bills. The city has contracted with Webster Bank to operate the lock box.
Tax Collector Kayla Jones explained Friday the vendor that prints the bills acquired a new machine and as a precaution the city sent samples to Webster to ensure their equipment could read the barcodes. That was several weeks ago. Jones said the city never received confirmation from the bank as to the legibility of the codes, so the decision was made to proceed with printing the bills and mailing them.
What happens if the bank’s machines can’t read the codes?
Jones doesn’t think that will be the case, however, if there is a problem with the code reader, the bills are numbered and the processing center can properly credit accounts. It’s just going to require more work on their part.
The bills don’t reflect a change in tax rates other than motor vehicles. The motor vehicle rate declined as a result of the next step in the phase out of the tax as initiated by former Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello. The City Council approved the mayor’s $333 million budget that thanks to American Rescue Plan federal funding does not require an increase in the rate.
In all, Jones said the city issued 38,000 real estate, 3,426 personal property of tangible and 31,047 motor vehicle bills. Since the city issues a number of “fleet” motor vehicle bills – a single bill for a company that owns multiple vehicles such as UPS or a car rental agency – the actual number of vehicles registered in the city number 75,949.