Monday evening Surry County Tax Administrator Michael Hartgrove told county commissioners that the most recent fiscal year was one of the best tax years in recent history.
While the county had budgeted with the expectation of collecting 96 percent of property taxes, Hartgrove told commissioners that his department had collected 98.2 percent of last fiscal year’s property taxes.
According to Hartgrove the county collected about $28 million in the fiscal year, which is about $1 million more than what commissioners and county staff had budgeted. Hartgrove told commissioners that the year’s numbers speak well of Surry County residents in that they are paying their taxes.
Hartgrove said that a number of things contributed to the “good tax year.” One matter, according to Hartgrove, that helped Surry County collect taxes was a change to the way motor vehicle taxes are now collected.
According to Hartgrove the county had to collect property taxes on vehicles on its own until last fiscal year. Hartgrove said that because the tax department had to send bills that weren’t due until the end of the fiscal year, their was “lag time” in collecting those taxes.
Hartgrove said that the fact that motor vehicle taxes are now collected through the Department of Motor Vehicles has hastened the collection of those taxes. Hartgrove added that the county collected about $3 million in motor vehicle property taxes last fiscal year.
Commissioner Larry Phillips questioned Hartgrove as to his assessment of how last year’s tax collection numbers might reflect trends in the economy.
“I think people are buying newer cars,” commented Hartgrove. “Which is a good sign.”
Though Hartgrove said that newer vehicles may be on the streets in Surry County, home sales in the county seem to remain flat. “If home sales are trending up, you can’t tell it,” said Hartgrove.
However, Hartgrove said property tax revaluations have proved that Surry County residents are improving the homes in which they live. Hartgrove said that the numerous home remodelling efforts his department has seen could be a reflection of an improving economy.
Hartgrove also told commissioners that his department collected about $250,000 in overdue emergency services bills. Since his department can now garnish the wages of somebody with a delinquent bill, Hartgrove said he has more leverage to use in the collection process.
That stated, Hartgrove told board Chairman R. F. “Buck” Golding that his department works with those who owe money. “We will set-up a payment system,” said Hartgrove. “If somebody will work with us, we will work with them.”
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or email@example.com.