WarrenJuly 13, 2012
County to collect Warren’s past-due business taxes
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
WARREN — Owe back taxes on personal property at a business in Warren? The county will soon be calling you to collect.
They’re ready and able to do it, Warren City Treasurer Carolyn Kurkowski Moceri said earlier this month, championing a recent decision by the Warren City Council to send the city’s delinquent personal property tax accounts to the office of Macomb County Treasurer Ted Wahby for collection.
“One guy with a Bresser’s book, that’s all we had,” Kurkowski Moceri said of her department’s in-house efforts, using a reverse phone book, to collect money owed for taxes assessed to personal business property that includes machinery and equipment. “We had very dinosauristic tools to collect our delinquent personal property. He (Wahby) has a whole division.”
The council’s recent unanimous vote of approval, taken on the third time the matter had come before them, paves the way for the county to begin collection on past-due personal property taxes assessed between 2008-2011.
Kurkowski Moceri said that includes more than $2 million that remained uncollected for 2008 alone.
“We have a department that’s dedicated to collecting personal property taxes,” Wahby said last week. “They’re very dedicated. They know what to do. It’s not a popular tax, you know. What we’ve been doing, it’s proving to be very good for the community. Our collection rates are very high.” Wahby cited collection rates near 95 percent.
Once collection efforts begin, he said, the county would send monthly checks to the city of Warren.
With the addition of Warren, Wahby said his office now collects on delinquent personal property taxes for all of the county’s municipalities. They also continue to collect delinquent taxes on real property, once they are turned over to Macomb County.
Wahby said the communities are made whole once the taxes are collected. The county, through the work of his staff, keeps fees and interest tied to the delinquent tax accounts.
“We have a high degree of collection success, and we also work with people,” Wahby said. “We don’t go out there and try to sneak up on them and penalize them. They have to realize, No. 1, that they owe it. We work out payment plans with them. We do everything we can to get it done. We have a system.”
Kurkowski Moceri said the agreement would enable her to eliminate a position in her department for a total savings of more than $100,000 in salary and benefits.
She said no one would lose their job — two employees would be “bumped down” to lower positions — and a vacant position would be eliminated.
Kurkowski Moceri said the Macomb County Board of Commissioners had already approved the agreement, and it was an example of a successful elimination of a redundant service, at a cost savings to the taxpayers.
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