Jefferson County Explains Tax Bill Snafu

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HILLSBORO, MO. (KTVI) – There is confusion in Jefferson County over a pair of errors that impacted nearly seven-thousand tax bills.  The gaffes left phones ringing off the hook in the county collector’s office, and folks working late at a St. Louis printing company responsible for the mistake.

Specialty Mailing, a St. Louis company contracted to print and mail the bills, confirms it was their software that caused the problems.

The first issue was with personal property tax bills.  About four thousand people received bills stating they owned many cars in addition to their own.  The monetary figures regarding assessment and amount owed were correct, but the list of vehicles clearly was not.

County Collector Beth Mahn knew of this problem quickly, because her bill had one of the largest errors.

“I got my own personal tax bill on Friday night,” she said in an interview, Monday.  “I own one vehicle and I had thirty-five. Some people had two, or three, or four, or nine. I had thirty-five.”

Asked what she thought when she saw that list of Hondas, Chevy’s and more, she said, “I knew I was gonna be working all weekend, which is exactly what happened.”

It didn’t take long before the second problem popped up.  More than 26 hundred property tax bills that were supposed to go to mortgage lenders holding escrows instead went to the homeowners.  The correct information was also transmitted to the lenders, but there were plenty of confused people who got bills in the mail that they don’t normally see.

“We are reassuring them that we have sent them to their lender and they can disregard that notice as long as it shows on top of the bill that there is a lending code,” Mahn said.

Specialty Mailing’s president, Steve Stancic, tells FOX2 his company is paying for any extra postage and printing necessary.  He’s enclosed a letter of apology as well.  He points out that the vast majority of the bills were correct, and says mistakes happen with such large orders.  Just the same, he regrets the mistake.

Mahn, meanwhile, says Specialty was hired because the law requires the county to give the job to the lowest bidder.  

“And so this is a case where lowest bid probably isn’t always a good idea, because anybody can come in and shoot a low number and not have the ability to do what you need them to do.”

She goes on to say the job will be up for bid again next year.

“Yup. It sure will,” she says with a sarcastic laugh, “We probably won’t be choosing that printer.  Ya think?”

The bills that needed correcting are being re-printed and re-mailed. 

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