The Pierce County Assessor Treasurer’s 0ffice will pay $13,000 of the $40,000 cost to send reply address stubs to 128,000 taxpayers.
The letters will be mailed by the end of February. The return address on property tax bills mailed last week was mistakenly omitted by the county’s vendor and the assessor’s office didn’t catch the error.
The vendor, Automatic Funds Transfer Services, will pay the cost of postage – $27,000 – for the mailing. The Assessor-Treasurer’s portion of $13,000 will pay for printing and inserting. The county’s portion will come from savings achieved elsewhere in the Assessor-Treasurer’s budget, said Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan.
“The taxpayers have been very understanding of this error, and our vendor has agreed to pay over two-thirds of the cost of correcting it,” Lonergan said. “I believe we have found the best possible solution, to assure property owners that their payments will reach us with no problem.”
Here’s more of what Lonergan said in an email today:
First the good news. Hundreds of tax payments have already been mailed in, many with our street address here at the Pierce County Annex written in, others with the P.O Box coppied off the back of the tax statement, and some with nothing at all. They are all arriving at our P.O. Box because of the postal barcode on the reply envelope. (I don’t have a count of these, but I saw two mail trays full of them yesterday.)
Even though the payments are getting to the right place with no problem, I still believe many taxpayers will be troubled by the missing reply address on the stubs. So, we have worked with our vendor AFTS to correct the problem. Because some of the statements going to taxpayers owning multiple properties had not been mailed out, when the error was found, they were corrected at AFTS expense before being sent.
So, it turns out we only need to mail 128,000 correction letters to reach everyone who got the payment stubs with no reply address to show through the window envelopes. These letters will be mailed out by the end of February (one week from today), and will contain two additional reply address stubs, with instructions to include these with the first half (April 30) and second half (OCtober 31) payments. The original stubs, with important parcel information, should also be included behind these new address stubs.
The total cost for this second mailing will be $40,000–far less than the first mailing because it can be done at bulk rate, rather than first class mail, and because this envelope will contain only a single perforated sheet. AFTS has agreed to pay the full cost of postage, which will be about $27,000. I have agreed that the Assessor-Treasurer’s office will pay for the printing and inserting, which is approximately $13,000. This will be the paid out of savings we are achieving elsewhere in our current operating budget, so I will not be seeking any special appropriation to cover it.