Rappahannock County begins process of cracking down on delinquent taxpayers

County treasurer earmarks necessary funds in initial FY18 budget request

Rappahannock County Treasurer Debbie Knick has held an initial meeting with the first of several private collection agencies, one of which could soon be helping the county recover some of the $1.2 million-plus that delinquent taxpayers still owe in annual real estate tax levies going back two decades.

“It was a very informative meeting,” Knick told the Rappahannock News. “I will be checking references and meeting with additional agencies to compare services in the weeks to come.”

This newspaper reported in recent weeks that over the last 20 years Rappahannock County has failed to collect in excess of $1.2 million in billed real estate taxes, a scenario the treasurer called “unacceptable.”

As of late last month, a whopping $763,000 was still uncollected just from the most recent tax years going back to 2014.

“A decision to go to a collection agency would require some upfront funds, which would need to be approved by the board” of Rappahannock County supervisors, Knick pointed out. “I did earmark those funds in my initial FY18 [fiscal year 2018] budget presentation to the board.”

Knick said her “goal would be to make a decision no later than May, so the process would officially start in July at the beginning of the fiscal year for budgetary reasons.”

From January 1997 to January 2017, the county was owed $1,229,804 in unpaid taxes — 1,916 individual outstanding bills.

It would appear the treasurer’s office under Knick, compared to previous years, is cracking down on delinquent taxpayers. She has been county treasurer since 2014.

“I want to make it very clear that I don’t think it’s acceptable” to avoid paying taxes, she said earlier,  stressing at the same time that she is more than willing to work out tax payment plans with county residents who request them, but she is also determined to “collect 100 percent” of owed taxes.

Should the county bring aboard a private collection firm there would be little if any cost to taxpayers. Ideally, as it was described to this newspaper, 20 percent of the total amount currently owed by each taxpayer would be tacked onto their existing bill to cover the collection costs.

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