Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

NOTICE: Word on the Street has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Word on the Street.
Visit the new section.

Assessor’s office to pay $13,000 to send reply address stubs to taxpayers

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on Feb. 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm with 6 Comments »
February 21, 2013 3:19 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. So a private sector print shop error. I thought the private sector was supposed to be the anecdote for incompetent government bureaucrats.

    Guess there aren’t any easy answers for those desiring perfection and a mistake-free world – except for their own imperfections and mistakes of course.

  2. dontbesilly says:

    It’s not a print shop error. Lonergan said he and 4 others missed it when proofing, so technically the print shop isn’t at fault at all.

  3. Yes, another waste of money. The return address is printed on the top
    portion of your tax bill. Why can’t people figure this out?
    Why does the County of Pierce have to waste $13,000.00 of saved
    money on this. Another cheaper option would be too make a Robo
    phone call that we are all use to by the politicians. This Robo
    phone call would tell the taxpayers how to mail in there tax
    payments or just pay in person. I am moving back to California !!

  4. PumainTacoma says:

    Take the $ out of his travel, lunch, gasoline, and his other perks. And PROOF read next time. Geez

  5. I do not think it is rocket science for tax payers to address an envelop. This cost is an emotional, knee jerk solution that just is not necessary.

  6. puyallupmutt says:

    Will Sean Robinson now begin a three year jihad against this Assessor like the last one ?

*
We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0