By Ken de la Bastide
Howard County received property tax collections on time from 96.4 percent of the property owners this year, up slightly from the 2011 collection.
Treasurer Martha Lake said in 2011 the county received 95.6 percent of the property taxes that were due.
She said Howard County collected $47.3 million in property taxes in the spring and $41.4 million in November.
Last year, the county received $46 million in May, and $45 million in the fall.
This year, the county received $88.7 million, which was down from the $91.1 million received in 2011.
Lake said in 2011 the county received a tax payment from General Motors, which caused the amount to be a little higher.
This year the county collected $6.5 million in excise taxes as compared to $6.3 million in 2011, Lake said.
“I’m very pleased,” Lake said. “It’s been a great year. Collections were up by almost 1 percent and we balanced to the penny.”
County property owners could have made monthly payments on their property tax bills for the first time in 2012.
Howard County is the second Indiana county to offer the monthly payment options through Star Bank.
Lake said there are 124 people signed up for the program.
Allen County has been collecting monthly tax payments since 2010.
The new system allows property owners to make 12 equal, monthly payments instead of two large payments. There is no monthly fee and the program is open to all property owners in Howard County.
When property owners sign up for the installment plan, they will create an account with a unique username and password and then select the property to make payments on. Local property owners who don’t have access to the internet can establish a payment plan through the treasurer’s office.
There is also a form authorizing the county to withdraw money from a property owner’s bank account.
Lake said taxpayers will be notified 10 days in advance of a payment being deducted and then receive notification the payment has been received.
Using Star Bank’s software program, payments are automatically calculated and adjusted when new tax rates are established.
The property owner selects the day of the month for the funds to be transferred to the county.
Lake said Indiana statute prohibits penalties or interest on tax bills if the property owner is making monthly payments and the May and November payments are made after the due date.