New Castle County government is seeing results from its increased effort to collect delinquent taxes and fees.
County officials say they contacted delinquent property owners following last fall’s payment deadline and collected more than $15 million in overdue taxes from 2018 — roughly $12 million of which were school district property taxes.
A third-party collection agency also helped secure over a million dollars in taxes and fees that had been delinquent for over three years. Nearly half of these long-term delinquencies were school district property taxes.
County Executive Matt Meyer says schools clearly benefited from this effort.
“I was a teacher,” he said. “$12 million across the county into schools, even as a one-time infusion, is a substantive amount of money. I think it matters. It’s obviously up to the leadership of the individual school districts and the schools how it’s going to make a difference.”
The delinquent tax collection likely will not significantly impact the County’s bottom line.
County Chief Financial Officer David Gregor says the tax collection rate anticipated in this year’s budget was slightly lower than the 99.45 percent the County ended up achieving. “We’re probably looking a little better than we thought we were going to be,” he said. “But it’s not changing the fundamental outlook for the County over the long term.”
The New Castle County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019 lists as a source of funds roughly $124 million in real estate property taxes. According to officials, the County achieved a 99.45 percent collection rate in 2017 as well.
Meyer says the increased collection efforts will continue. “There still are some longer term delinquencies we’re going to continue to work on. I guess a quick way of saying it is we’re not done yet,” he said..
Meyer adds the collection of these delinquent taxes does not alter the County’s need for the phased-in property tax increase that passed County Council last year.
“The County Executive went out and asked for some extra revenue,” said Gregor. “The feedback he got fairly consistently was, make sure you’re doing everything you can to make sure people who are delinquent are paying their fair share.”