Mayor Dwight C. Jones will be presenting his proposed spending plan for the 2014 fiscal year to Richmond City Council today, March 12, at 3 p.m. Looming in the background is 162,130 delinquent accounts owing nearly $39 million, as yet uncollected.
According to a report presented last month during a City Council work session on the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, of the $44 million in uncollected taxes owed the city in 2012, only ten percent, or $4.7 million had been collected, leaving $39 million still due.
Some of the real estate taxes go back almost 20 years, which is the legal limit set by state law for collecting real estate taxes. Delinquent real estate taxes amount to a total of $16.1 million.
The biggest chunk of taxes owed the city come under personal property taxes. These are taxes on vehicles, machinery, tools and other equipment used by individuals and businesses. The estimated total of these taxes comes to $51 million.
On May 2, 2012, this examiner wrote an article detailing the disarray within Richmond's Finance Department. It was pointed out then that the problems being experienced within the department had been ongoing for at least five or six years.
Since that time, the city was supposed to be working on correcting the delinquent taxes problem, as well as the lack of leadership within the Finance Department. If we are to believe Council President Charles R. Samuels, improvement will be forthcoming.
Sharon Judkins was hired as the deputy chief administrative officer over finance and administration. Before Judkins was hired in March, five people served as director of finance or the deputy chief administrative officer over finance in five years, according to the city auditor’s report.
Given the time constraints, the city will have to wait and see if things will improve on Judkins' watch. Samuels said,
“I do believe we’re going to continue to improve on our collection rate. … I think stability within the department is important, but I also think implementing new strategies for collection is important.”