Sometimes you can just feel the spin. As a journalist there’s not much you can do about it either. You need to get all the sides and let people sort out the information for themselves. So here goes….
Our phones started ringing off the hook last night from Richmonders who opened their mail and got a Real Estate Tax bill from the city. These are people who have mortgages and their escrow agents usually handle the bill. I interviewed several people today who tell me they called the city last night and were told it was a mistake. Several sources AT City Hall tell me it was a mistake. Several Council members tell me it was a mistake.
However, The City says the bills were sent on purpose. The City says the bills were mislabled but they were meant to help homeowners keep better records and to promote better transparency in Government.
The bill, (which I’ve seen) looks like a bill. There is no mention of the document being a duplicate copy. In fact, on the back it tells you to forward it immediately to your escrow company if you have an account. The City has apologized for any inconvenience to taxpayers and says it was only trying to be helpful.
Also, it should be noted duplicate property tax bills were sent out to homeowners last year. People who paid their property taxes recieved a delinquent notice months later. It was a mistake.
And those are the facts I was able to gather today.
Here is the full statement from the city…
City Statement on 2009 Real Estate Tax Billing
Richmond, VA – Real estate tax bills were mailed on Friday, May 15, 2009, to all property owners and mortgage holders. The bills mailed to property owners were a duplicate communication and didn’t clearly indicate that escrow agents were also being billed directly. The City apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused.
Property Owners who have escrow agents paying their real estate taxes should know that those escrow agents have been billed by the City. This duplicate bill was intended to help property owners who may have recently paid off or refinanced their mortgages, as they may need this information to meet their responsibilities or forward to a new escrow agent.
Should you have a question regarding your real estate tax bill, please contact the City at 3-1-1 or firstname.lastname@example.org.