Johnston County collected 99.8 percent of the taxes it levied last fiscal year.
That’s a record for Johnston and likely one of the best rates in the state, said County Tax Collector Sheila Garner, who delivered the news in her annual report to Johnston County Commissioners.
In fiscal year 2014-15, Johnston billed $101.6 million in property taxes. When the year ended June 30, the county had collected all but $206,000 that amount.
The collection rate is up 0.09 percentage points from 99.71 percent the prior year, which was another strong year of collections for the county, Garner said. According to the state treasurer’s office, in 2013-14, Johnston had the highest collection rate among counties with populations of 100,000 or more people. Including the smaller counties, Johnston placed third out of 100.
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When the tax bills came due this year on Jan. 5, 88 percent had been paid on time. County staff collected most of the remainder through persistence and their telephones, Garner said.
“We didn’t keep track of the calls,” she said. “But I can tell you, in walking through that office, it sounded like a call center.”
Commissioners were pleased with the collection rate.
Chairman Tony Braswell told Garner that she and her staff had done an outstanding job.
“I don’t what know you’re going to do when you reach 100 percent. Then how are you going to improve?” he joked.
Commissioner Cookie Pope joined her colleagues in praising the tax-collection staff, and she also thanked the people of Johnston for paying their bills.
“I always say this, but I want to commend the citizens of this county,” Pope said. “If they didn’t pay it, our rate wouldn’t be this good … and we couldn’t boast on it.”
In the budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, commissioners raised Garner’s salary by $7,000 to $97,000.
Here are other items from the July County Commissioners meeting:
Sewer loan: The county accepted a $1.2 million, interest-free loan for 20 years from the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. The money will fully fund sewer-main and manhole-rehabilitation work in three areas. Those are the Holt Lake, Buffalo Road and Bright Leaf Boulevard interceptors.
Water service to Wake: Johnston updated its contract with Raleigh to provide water to 100-150 customers in Wake County. The agreement covers customers along previously approved development and matters of “public health and welfare.” Among other changes, the update clearly defines “public health and welfare” and clarifies that Johnston owns, maintains and operates its water mains located in Wake.
Fire contracts: Johnston renewed its agreements with the volunteer and municipal fire departments in the county. The county revises and renews the contracts every two years, and staff worked with County Attorney Jennifer Slusser to clarify a number of points. The fire chiefs reviewed the new terms at a June meeting.