County to set record delinquent tax fund

March 22, 2010
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It’s an annual rite of spring at Kent County and commissioners are likely to enact it this week.

Board members will establish the county’s revolving fund for delinquent real property taxes on Thursday and also authorize the sale of limited tax notes. This year, the total amount of limited tax notes will top last year’s all-time record of $40 million, with a not-to-exceed limit of $42 million.

But it’s unlikely the county will issue $42 million in notes, as last year Kent borrowed $36 million.

“Our preliminary number shows it will stick around $36 million. We don’t have a final number yet,” said Kent County Treasurer Kenneth Parrish.

The county will sell the tax notes to raise capital for the revolving fund. The notes will carry an interest rate that is not to exceed the short-term market rate; large financial institutions will buy most of the notes because of the county’s triple-A bond rating.

Parrish then will use the proceeds from the tax-note sale to buy the delinquent property taxes from the cities, townships, libraries, school districts, Grand Rapids Community College and the Interurban Transit Partnership.

All overdue 2009 property taxes automatically moved from the originating taxing jurisdiction to the county on March 1. The notes are usually sold in April and the county pays the taxing units in May. Property owners then pay the county their delinquent tax amounts.

Parrish said the county collects slightly more tax revenue than it borrows for the notes each year, when the interest from the delinquent taxes is included. The county charges property owners that are behind in their taxes 1 percent for each month their taxes are overdue and adds a 4 percent administrative fee to each bill. Parrish said his office collects 99 percent of the overdue taxes. The county has issued these notes since 1973.

On Thursday, Commissioners also are likely to designate three county-owned properties as venues for the second annual ArtPrize competition that begins in September. The sites under consideration are the lobby area on the plaza level of the county administration building, the clock tower area near the county courthouse and the vacant property on Monroe Avenue NW just north of the U.S. Postal Office.

The county had considered adding its Fuller Avenue NE campus into the mix but all ArtPrize venue sites must be within a 3-mile radius of downtown, and the campus is outside that boundary. No county property was involved in the inaugural competition last fall.

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