Now that we have completed the task of preparing accurate budgets and submitting perfect levy calculations for each assessment and special tax district, what could go wrong?
A crucial element in the annual levy process is not only the ability to, but the action of collecting the entire amount that was placed on the tax roll. The following three guidelines will ensure your diligent cost recovery efforts are not in vain.
- First and foremost is verification. The County will provide an applied report or fixed charge list which confirms the amount the County will place on the tax roll. Each and every time a report is prepared by the County, it must be compared to the levy or direct charges as submitted. Often times, applied reports are re-printed because of a change in the total amounts. There are many factors that can cause a charge to be removed after the first applied report has been received. While some adjustments are unexplained, the most common reasons include last minute parcel splits and changes in ownership to utility or tax exempt parcels. In some cases, a dropped charge from the tax roll will require a bill to be sent directly to the property owner from the agency.
- The second and most commonly forgotten task is the reconciliation of apportioned funds. With multiple apportionment schedules across the state, we must first be aware of our specific County schedule. The task of tracking the actual amounts received for each fund is extremely important. Now that checking the applied reports has been determined to be a required task, we should know the exact amount anticipated on each County apportionment. Adjustments are often missed by reviewing just an applied report, so identifying if there is a discrepancy in the apportioned amount will detect additional errors. Funds received from direct bills also need to be accounted for, as these are payments received directly from the property owner by your agency. The combination of the County apportionments and the directly paid charges plus delinquencies should always equal the total levy amount.
- The third and final step in determining if the cost recovery amounts are appropriately utilized is to transfer the various funds to the correct location. For example, the amount recovered for staff administration should be moved to the General Fund or continuing disclosure costs moved to the administration fund. Without completing these types of transfers, funds may be seen as surplus and used to offset true costs in future years. Too often this final step in the task of cost recovery is never actually performed.
By following these simple steps, you will help guarantee that your hard work in analyzing projected costs was worthwhile.
For More Information Contact: Danielle Wood, Associate Director at firstname.lastname@example.org