The majority of Charleston County property owners who don't want to pay a fee or can't access the Internet will have to wait at least another week to receive their property tax bills in the mail.
County Auditor Peggy Moseley said at County Council's Nov. 15 meeting that the delayed tax bills would be available online the next day. She then estimated that paper copies would go in the mail a few days later.
On Tuesday she said the company hired to print the bills has told her they won't be mailed until Nov. 29.
The bills were available online late in the day on Nov. 16. Property owners have been able to access their bills and pay them online since then. But people who pay online incur a fee of 2.5 percent of what they owe.
Julie Riley-Hollar, the county's deputy treasurer, said about 20 percent of property tax payments come from mortgage companies. Of the property owners who paid their own bills last year, only about 2 percent did it online, she said.
That's probably because most people want to avoid the fee. Most people send their payments through the mail to the Treasurer's office, she said.
Property tax bills usually go out by Sept. 30. Moseley's announcement Tuesday about the paper copies of the bills marks another delay in a string of hold-ups on getting the tax bills out.
Moseley blamed the county's new Manatron computer system for previous delays and some of the current delays. She said she has heard that other counties also have had problems using the system. Moseley said although the amount owed was correct on the printed copies, some calculations at the top of the bill were not correct. She attributed those errors to Manatron.
She said the printing process for the bills also was slow because the bill layout is different this year because tax information is coming from the county's new computer system.
The printing company sent her several proofs of the bills since the tax information appeared online Nov. 16, she said. But each time, there was some kind of flaw in the print copies.
The printer will produce 25 percent of the bills by Friday, Moseley said. By Monday, 75 percent of the bills will be done. And all the bills will go in the mail Tuesday, Moseley said. People should begin receiving them Wednesday.
County Councilman Elliott Summey, who has been critical of Moseley's handling of the tax bills, said he didn't learn until Monday that the paper copies of the bills haven't gone out. "I've been standing by my mailbox, but haven't received anything," he said.
He said he can't understand why the paper copies of the property tax bills are delayed, but paper copies of the vehicle tax bills were mailed.
County Council wasn't informed about additional delays, he said. "If she needed more help or more people, all she had to do was ask," he said of Moseley.
The county relentlessly pursues people whose taxes are delinquent, he said. "We're being hypocritical."