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Property owners scramble to meet tax deadline (video)

Jan. 30, 2013 at 3:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 29, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

Rena Scherer, the county tax assessor/collector, collects a payment from Carlos Garibay III as the clock ticks down on the deadline to pay taxes before penalties began accruing.

The lunch rush hit moments after David Buckert, 68, of Victoria, claimed his spot in line at the tax office.

He is among nearly a quarter of the city property owners who are paying up before Thursday's deadline to avoid hefty penalties.

Buckert owns rental properties in the area and paid the tax for nine earlier in the week. He was back Wednesday to finish out two more.

"It's a necessary evil," he said. "You have to do it."

Overall, Buckert said the staff makes it easy.

"If I had a problem, I'd have already contested it, as we did last year," he said. "They're pretty accommodating."

It took about 15 minutes before his cash was counted up and his receipts printed.

"It is what it is," he said.

County Tax Assessor/Collector Rena Scherer said the busiest time of the year for the office is the last week of January.

"On Thursday, they'll be out the door, down the hallway," Scherer said. "People just have to be patient."

As of the beginning of the week, about 75 percent of city property owners had paid their taxes, according to the tax office.

Scherer said the office does not offer extended hours Thursday, the final day to pay property tax bills without penalty. The doors shut at 4:45 p.m., but anyone who is in line will be serviced.

"We sent out the bills in October," she said, adding that people have had months to get their finances together.

As long as bills are postmarked by Jan. 31, or in the night deposit box before 8 a.m. Friday, there is no penalty.

"If you can't pay in full, pay what you can," she said.

The balance draws a 7 percent penalty and interest in February. Any remaining balance draws a 9 percent penalty and interest in March.

"We accept partial payment all the time," she said. "We're here to work with people as much as possible."

Barbara Matthews, 66, of Victoria, said she and her husband planned to pay their bill quarterly.

"I'm just paying a portion today," she said.

They are both retired and the tax on her is home frozen, but financially, paying in installments was the best solution.

"I don't like to pay property taxes, but it's something you have to do," she said.



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