Home Construction Down 61 Percent In First Half Of Fiscal '92

Tax Bills Show How Recession Has Hit Local Building

January 19, 1992|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

Just when you thought you'd heard them all, here's yet another indicator that economic woe prevails throughout the land.

The county's half-year tax bills, which go out this week, show home construction in Carroll during the first half of fiscal 1992 dropped more than 60 percent from the same period the year before.

The half-year tax charge is a sort of prorated bill, which goes out to people who own homes built between May and December. Those homes didn't make it on the rolls for the regular annual bills that go out in late June.

The tax roll for the half-year bills shows that 386 new homes were completed since May, said county Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman.

That's a 61 percent drop from the 988 half-year bills that were mailed out at this time last year.

The figures serve as an illustration of the effect the recession is having on the construction industry.

"It's way down," Curfman said.

By contrast, the annual June bills go to about 41,000 county residents.

Making revenue projections has become an uncertain undertaking for county administrators, who have weathered several rounds of cuts in state aid.

So Curfman's office aimed low when estimating how much money would becollected by this round of half-year tax bills, to compensate for lower-than-expected revenue from the annual bill.

"We knew it was coming, and we took it into consideration (when formulating projections)," he said.

The half-year bills are expected to generate about $184,000 for the county, he said, which will put the the comptroller's office about $140,000 over budget for the year.

But that's hardly gravy for the county.

"We're going to need it elsewhere, I'm sure," Curfman said.

And while most people don't want even to think about the tax bill that will come out in late June, staffers in Curfman's office have already immersed themselves in the subject.

One matter that has been getting attention is that the form the county uses for tax bills is getting crowded, Curfman said. Now the county commissioners are considering new fees for septic and recycling. If the charges are approved, they'll have to added to the form.

However, Curfman said there's only room for one more entry on the form. If both proposed fees are authorized, the form will have to be revised to accommodate the new information

"Then we'd have a real problem," he said. "Then we've got to completely redesign the tax bill."

The form for the annual tax bill typically goes to the printer at the end of February, Curfman said. If the new fees are added later than that, theform would have to be called back for redesign, which could result in a delay of a week or two in getting the bills out this summer.

In other news on the tax bill front, the county may reconsider lowering the discount extended to those who pay the annual tax bills early, Curfman said.

Currently, citizens who pay during July receive a 2 percent discount, while those who square their bills in August get a 1 percent break.

But with interest rates dropping, the county's efforts to get tax revenue in early bring diminishing returns, Curfman said.

People who pay in September pay the full amount. In October,the county starts levying interest and penalty charges.

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