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REAL ESTATE | Notice sent about mistake in property tax bills in Washington County, WI

Washington County, WI – The phone started ringing Monday morning, December 11, 2023, about problems with some of the tax bills neighbors were receiving in Washington County, WI. In particular the complaints came from the Town of Hartford. Neighbors said they received their tax bill, and someone else’s.

Tina Pfeifer is the treasurer/deputy clerk in the Town of Hartford. She’s been treasurer with the town for 20 years. During a one-on-one phone conversation Wednesday night, she laid out the issue, the resolution and the communication with taxpayers.

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“So, the explanation is, I’ve been treasurer here for 20 years, and I always stuffed the tax envelopes at my kitchen table.
“The Washington County Treasurer made a recommendation a few years ago, that there was a company that would be willing to stuff our tax bills, and kind of take that burden off of our plates as treasures.

“I didn’t go with it right away. I am one of the people who waited to see if there were situations or problems or concerns or, you know, people not getting their tax bills, what have you.
“I didn’t hear any complaints. I didn’t hear any concerns. Everybody said it went smoothly. So, this year with approval from our town board, I asked if I could have that company (from Lake Geneva) stuff our county taxes, as the Washington County Treasurer recommended, and they were for it.
“So, we gave the thumbs up, sent all the information they wanted in the inserts with the tax bills and released our bills to the company. They went out last Wednesday in the mail. We received notice from the company that they were out, and they said we should prepare to start receiving payments.
“By Friday morning, our chairman started to receive phone calls that stated they were receiving other people’s tax bill. He called me immediately and said I’m getting these phone calls, and I don’t know why.
“I said, just direct them to me. There are certain situations sometimes people do end up with some mistake. I came into work on Saturday to get my desk cleared off for the Monday tax season and I had probably 30 phone calls and just as many emails stating the same thing.
“I immediately reached out to Scott Henke at Washington County treasurer’s office, as well as the company in Lake Geneva and I said, what’s going on? I cannot believe this happened. The company who prepared everything got back to me Sunday and explained there was some kind of a glitch with the taxes.
“Unfortunately, what happened affected multiple tax bills.
“So, the people that received multiple, two or more tax bills, for that many parcels.  One of the bills must have been skipped, missed, or dropped. I’m not exactly sure what, but it then caused all the bills to go off by one.
“So, people were receiving other people’s tax bills in their envelopes. The man at the company we worked with told me, we’re going to rerun the multiple tax bills.
“He sent me a notice of what he was putting in with the tax bill, explaining what happened and it was not the town of Hartford’s fault; they took full responsibility for this issue.”
American Commercial Real Estate

Pfeifer said a “new batch of tax bills for the multiple parcels went out with this notice on Monday” and she’s been keeping an eye on the situation.

“I have been diligently watching to make sure that somebody doesn’t open their tax bill and inadvertently pay a wrong bill.  I’m working as hard as I can on my side to make sure everything is smooth,” she said.

“I’ve also reached out to a couple people who wanted their tax bills instead of waiting for the duplicate envelope to come from the company. They came in here and I reprinted those bills for them.

“I’ve emailed bills out to the residents that wanted them emailed. In my tax letter it explained how they can go online, even before this happened, and they can print their own receipts.”

Cast iron

Pfeifer said she has gone over and above to straighten out, what has been her worst nightmare come true.

“Absolutely. Like I said, 20 years of this, and this is the worst,” said Pfeifer. “This is probably the worst I’ve ever had to deal with machines technology.

“Three days of sitting at my kitchen table, stuffing tax bills, has now kind of turned into a miserable mess on my side but knock on wood everybody has been kind, everybody has been understanding and we’re going to get through it.”

Pfeifer quoted her mom, “Is it the end of the world? No. Is it fixable? Absolutely. It just has to take several sets of eyes to make sure there isn’t an error in the end.”

Questioned whether Town of Hartford was the only community affected, Pfeifer said she reached out to the Town of Addison and Town of Polk and they said their “bills were all fine.”

The big question is, will the Town of Hartford have to pay for the service, since there was an obvious mistake?

Pfeifer said, “He (spokesman from Lake Geneva firm) assured me that we are receiving a credit for all of them that I’ve had to reprint and all of them, I’ve had to read email. And he is not charging us for the second batch of bills that he mailed out Monday.

“At this time, it’s roughly about 1/4 of the single bills that went to the single residences, those were perfect. Those were fine, it was just the multiples. He assured me we will not be paying for those. And he also assured me that they’re going to credit back some of my time that I have spent because obviously, I’m not here on weekends, but I was.”

Pfeifer promised to follow up with the reimbursement amount, since taxpayer money was used to pay for this service.
“I don’t know as of yet the final credit. But it’s the envelopes they had to print. It’s the two inserts they had to print. It’s the postage they had to place on the envelopes. And obviously, not all envelopes have the same weight, so they’re not all the same amount.”

The final question is, will the Town of Hartford use this service again next year?

Pfeifer said that will be up to the Town Board, but she does have a Plan B all set to go.

“Whether we use them or not I know there were some concerned residents who did step up and say, hey, when you get the bills, we will come here, and sit and we will stuff the envelopes. You just provide us cheese and sausage and we’ll stuff. So that’s a wonderful story, by the way, isn’t it?”

Pfeifer closed saying, “It’s gonna be a long season. But I think I think we’ll be okay.”

If you’re a Washington County, WI resident and want to take a look at your tax bill, follow the instructions below.

If you just can’t wait to get your property tax bill in the mail, you can check it online.

Click HERE to get to the County Treasurer page and then scroll down to Quick Links.

Click the box that reads ‘Pay taxes online.’

Type in your last name or simply the address number.  Less information is best.

Then click ‘Property summary’ in the red print, download report and then the blue print ‘print tax bill’ and your full statement should show.

Most communities in Washington County, WI have statements now.

property

The lottery-tax credit for this year is $174.03 which is less than last year at $177.66 and less than in 2021 at $212.01

The First Dollar Credit: $46.76 which is less than last year at 54.12 and down from 2021 at $59.78.

How did your taxes end up… compared to last year??

Remember, Hartford, WI had a revaluation this past year (2022) and West Bend had a revaluation in 2023 so your total assessed value will be affected.

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