It has been almost a year since Penny Patton became the newest Fayette County Treasurer. The county treasurer is responsible for the collection of property.
One of the first changes implemented by Patton was changing the office hours from 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. to 8 a.m – 4 p.m. to allow the treasurer’s office to be in sync with the other offices in their building.
“Changing the hours made it a lot easier for all of our offices to work together,” explained Patton.
In just a year’s time, Patton and her colleagues have made significant changes and updates to the way the office works. For the first time ever, citizens can now make payments online.
“We have given people a lot more options, especially due to the pandemic,” noted Patton.
The office has recently come into the possession of a scanner that makes the job of organizing and finding checks so much more efficient.
“If you used to call and say, ‘I have a check that the bank didn’t clear,’ we would have to pull out a disc, go to the date, go to the check, and keep in mind, there might have been 500 checks that day, and continue to go through them one by one until you found the one you were looking for. Now, we go back, type a few things in and in seconds, the check and additional information pops right up,” explained Patton.
One of Patton’s biggest goals within the position is to communicate to taxpayers that they have an option to make year-round payments.
“I do this myself,” she said. “I set it up through my bank, with bill pay, where I divide my yearly taxes by 12 months. I start it in July, and the bank automatically sends a check each month to be applied to my taxes.”
Taxpayers can use this to their advantage to pay ahead so they don’t need to come up with two big lump sums twice a year.
“We have a customer that divides their payments out by 10 months and takes November and December off so they can have extra money for Christmas,” she said.
Patton explained that by using this feature, it is much easier to stay caught up and on top of things.
“Feel free to call the office and we can figure out the amount that you need to pay to stay ahead,” urged Patton. “Another way we try to help taxpayers save on taxes is to see if they qualify for the Homestead Exemption. To qualify they have to be 65 or older or permanently disabled, live in their home and own their home, and have an adjusted gross income of $34,600 or less per year.”
If you are qualified for this exemption, you can contact the Fayette County Auditor’s Office at 740-335-6461 to get more details on how to apply.
Patton’s main priority at this point in time is cleaning up the delinquencies within the county. A delinquency is when there are back taxes owed on a property.
Patton believes it is crucial for the public to know that their office is more than willing to work out a payment plan with you to help get you caught up.
“We want to get these delinquencies caught up because we don’t want anybody to lose their home. We are here to help and we will work with you, all you have to do is call.”
According to Patton, the hardest part of the job so far has been enforcing the ORC’s law on penalties the day after taxes are due.
The Ohio Revised Code 323.121 requires a penalty of 10% to be added to the current taxes due if not paid by deadline. If paid within 10 days after the due date, only half of the 10% is charged.
“We have to go by the ORC’s laws and regulations. There’s no negotiation there,” said Patton.
If you don’t have the full amount, pay what you can before the due date, she advised. “Anything you pay towards the amount due will lessen your penalty.”
For example, if your first half balance is $1,200 and you make a payment for $1,000 but can’t pay the remainder in time, you will only be penalized for the remaining $200.
Some members of the community had questions as to why their taxes have gone up this year. That is due to the Triennial Update.
Every three years one of two things happens, either a Triennial Update or a Reappraisal, and that goes for every county in Ohio. A Triennial Update is a study of sales that have taken place in the past three years in order to determine whether a change in market value has occurred.
A schedule for these occurrences can be found on the Ohio Department of Taxation’s website. The next thing to expect for Fayette County will be a Reappraisal in 2024.
“We have tried to make the act of making a payment way more customer friendly,” noted Patton.
The community can now pay online, over the phone, there is a dropbox located outside the treasurer’s office door located on the third floor of the county building, or you can simply mail in your payment.
The changes and updates that have been made within the office are there to create a better experience for the customer, according to Patton. She said she and her colleagues look forward to working with the people and serving the community for years to come.
The Fayette County Treasurer’s Office can be reached at 740-335-4961.