Suamico to begin first installment property tax collection
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – Village property taxpayers will no longer be heading to downtown Green Bay to make their first installment payments in-person.
That’s because starting with the 2021 property taxes due in 2022, the first installment collections for property in Suamico will be made at the village hall instead of the Brown County treasurer’s office.
The Suamico village board voted 5-2 Monday, May 17, not to continue having the service be handled by the county.
Village President Laura Nelson and Trustee Sky Van Rossum dissented after saying they wanted to wait another year to be able to budget for collecting first installment payments.
Brown County is implementing a new $1.60 fee per parcel being charged to municipalities electing to have the treasurer’s office still make first installment collections on their behalf.
The board’s motion calls for using up to $10,900 from contingency funds to support the village’s takeover of first installment collections, along with authorizing staff to sign the county’s 2021-22 property tax bill preparation agreement with a mailing option.
Under the agreement, the village will pay the county actual postal costs, based on the number of tax bills mailed.
County Treasurer Paul Zeller initially announced he planned to discontinue the first payment collections, beginning with the 2021 property taxes, which will be collected starting in December and running through next January.
However, after municipal officials objected, Zeller agreed to what he called a “compromise” for his office to begin charging the per-parcel fee to continue those first installment collections, which he said municipalities could be required to do under state law.
For those who don’t pay their property taxes in full with the first installment, the second payment will still be collected by the county treasurer.
A resolution approved April 21 by the county board authorized charging the per-parcel fee to towns and villages agreeing to have that service handled by the treasurer’s office, which also was authorized additional staffing for tax collection help by switching a limited-term employee (LTE) from a full-time equivalent (FTE) of .6 at $12.50 per hour for 1,260 hours to an LTE with an FTE of 1.21 at $15 per hour for 2,520 hours.
The resolution only applies to the 2021 tax year, after which the county treasurer would have the discretion as to whether to continue handling first installment collections.
Jessica Legois, Suamico’s finance director, informed the village board it would cost an additional $9,450 in 2021 by being charged the $1.60 per-parcel fee for the county to continue to collect first installment payments for property in Suamico.
Legois said the other option of the village collecting first installments is projected to cost $10,865 this year.
“The full 2021-22 tax collection season may cost $13,165 (for the village to collect first installments),” she said. “Almost half of that is one-time costs… When we’re talking about annual ongoing costs, we’re probably looking closer to approximately $7,000.”
For the village to collect the first installments itself, Legois said it faces having to hire one LTE for tax collection, starting in December and possibly continuing into January.
“(The LTE) would work with one existing employee here to receipt property taxes, update mailing addresses and perform (other duties),” she said.
Legois said Suamico initially will require first installment payments to be made only through the village offices by mail, dropbox or in-person with cash or check because payments will not be accepted by credit card.
“After the first year of tax collection, we will have a better understanding of staffing needs and costs,” she said. “I think at that point you’d be in a better position to offer additional conveniences, such as the online payments with a credit card fee or setting up those banking relationships.”
Legois said the village already pays for postage to have the property tax bill mailed out, so that would not be an additional expense.
After three years of collecting first installment payments, Village Administrator Alex Kaker said it would be cheaper for Suamico to handle that service than paying a per-parcel fee to the county.
Trustee Dan Roddan said the village wouldn’t have to be concerned about whether the county treasurer will handle first installment payments in future years by providing that service in Suamico.
“On top of it, it’s going to be (easier) for our residents to come here (to village hall) versus downtown (Green Bay),” he said. “I’d rather have our residents come here than have to go downtown. I’d rather come here than go downtown.”
Kaker said a number of village staff will be cross-trained to handle first installment property tax collections.