CLAY COUNTY — Collector Lydia McEvoy is concerned about people making threats about not paying their property taxes because they are mad at Clay County commissioners, saying those intended to be punished by the action wouldn’t be.
“Protesting your property taxes because of activities that you believe the Clay County Commission is involved in actually won’t work because the two aren’t really connected to each other and will hurt parties that having nothing to do with it,” McEvoy told the Courier-Tribune, citing numerous complaints she read on Facebook in recent weeks.
If taxes aren’t paid, McEvoy said those impacted most are entities like schools and emergency services.
“If you pull out your tax bill, it has a breakdown on it of where all your money goes. The bulk of it goes to the schools. While the bigger schools won’t collapse overnight if a few thousand people don’t pay their tax bills, some of the smaller school districts could be impacted as could other district entities like the Holt fire district,” the collector said. “Those smaller districts, they only have a few hundred taxpayers that really support their budgets so if a large percentage, which in some of these areas could just be a few people, decide not to pay their taxes for some reason, it could seriously damage the budgets of those small taxing jurisdictions.”
Of the roughly $400 million her office collects from county taxpayers each year, McEvoy said only about $4 million goes toward the county general fund, which is controlled by the commission. The county’s overall budget is more than $100 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from sales taxes in the county.
“So property tax bills do very little, if anything, to fund what the commission is doing,” McEvoy said.
If people do not pay, McEvoy, who also has not agreed with some actions made by the commission including going forward with a new Annex, said she will legally be required to charge penalties.
“Nobody likes to pay taxes, I get that,” she said. “… Taking it out on the collector staff is misplaced. We only do the math as we are given. We are going to be required by law to charge penalties and interest if you don’t pay. There is no reason for someone to get themselves in that position.”
The collector Is also concerned about increasing anger she has witnessed from the public. While her office gets complaints each year as part of tax season, McEvoy said there has been an increase in the fervor of the complaints with some misplacing their anger toward the county commission at her staff in the form of threats.
“This is a new category of complaint that we have no control over and there is nothing we can do. Your tax bill doesn’t really fund the commission Even if it did, the assessor and the collector have no ability to not bill what we are told to bill,” she said.