Local tax bills delayed by software changes
by DAVID DAVIS Managing Editor
Oct 01, 2013 | 681 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City of Cleveland account clerks Lavinia Johnson, left, and Kim Bivens are waiting to receive property tax payments as soon as they are mailed. Tax notices for 2013 are delayed because of a computer software conversion by the county tax assessor. The tax notices could be in the mail by the middle of October.   Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
City of Cleveland account clerks Lavinia Johnson, left, and Kim Bivens are waiting to receive property tax payments as soon as they are mailed. Tax notices for 2013 are delayed because of a computer software conversion by the county tax assessor. The tax notices could be in the mail by the middle of October. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
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Property owners watching for tax bills will have to wait a little longer before they arrive, and the city and county will have to wait a little longer before the check is in the mail.

Bradley County Tax Assessor Stanley Thompson said Monday he is hopeful the tax bill will go out in mid-October, “but I don’t want anyone tying me to that.”

The delay is caused by changes in software at the state and local levels. Thompson switched to a new computer-aided mass appraisal system instead of using the state’s system as in the past.

“Basically, the state was going to a new system and this opportunity came up so that we could go to our own system,” he said. “We did the new appraisal with the new system and it went fine.”

He said the new software is more flexible and offers more capabilities. For example, his office can make mass changes to instantly correct mass errors instead of submitting an order to the state and waiting to find out if it can be fixed.

Thompson said the main reason for separating from the state is because it is still in the process of converting its system — a process that began in 2008. His office switched and all of the data was converted within six months.

“They began in 2008 on the conversion and they are still not where they want to be. So, seeing what was going on, that’s another reason I decided to go out on our own,” he said.

In addition, the new system the state is going to would not communicate with Bradley County’s Geographic Information System.

“We have our own independent GIS and we wanted that to still work,” he said. “The biggest hiccup right now is the tax freeze, because not all counties have tax freezes — and that’s the biggest hiccup right now, just making sure that works. We want to make sure it’s right before any notices go out.”

Also, there is a big improvement in the online real estate data search.

He said the late notices are not isolated to Bradley County. He spoke with four other counties that are on three different systems. Notices for two counties have been mailed and the two others are still waiting.

“It’s not necessarily our private system because those counties are having the same problem,” he said.

The assessor is waiting on the software company to convert its files and send them to the state, which will then send it to the printer.

“I hate being at someone else’s will. If it was in-house, we’d work all night and get it done; but hopefully, we’ll have everything done sometime this week. And we can get it done.”