Editorials: Taxpaying satellites set next 2 Saturdays
Feb 12, 2014 | 673 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Even a cozy downtown that offers a hometown feel like Cleveland’s can’t always lighten the pain of visiting the Bradley County Courthouse to pay property taxes.

On a list of favored activities, it rarely makes the Top 10 of most local taxpayers.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons the Bradley County Trustee’s Office is reaching out to home and property owners to — at the very least — make the process a little less inconvenient.

Two methods employed by Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith are no longer a secret. Truth is, they are rapidly becoming household names in most families.

One is the partial payment plan which allows local homeowners to avoid the one-time, lump-sum payment each year by breaking it down into equal monthly installments or maybe even payments every other month, quarterly or even twice a year. The coming tax year’s sign-up deadline came last Friday. At the end of business — the office doors actually stayed open late to accommodate the rush of last-day registrants — the Trustee’s Office staff had signed up the people-friendly program’s 745th parcel.

That’s amazing. And not because of the sheer numbers.

It’s amazing because this is a government program designed for the people and one that is being welcomed in by the people.

Smith and his staff launched partial pay in March 2011. In less than three years, the flow of taxpayer traffic into the office to sign up has easily outdistanced the original five-year goal.

But the popular partial payment plan is only one of the forward-thinking practices implemented by the Trustee’s Office.

Another is about to take its annual spotlight.

We speak of the Trustee’s Office satellite sites that will open over the next two Saturdays to allow Bradley County taxpayers to make their payments.

While the partial payment plan offers convenience financially — especially for those on limited or fixed incomes — the satellite sites provide the convenience of paying early and paying closer to home. For those who routinely pay their property taxes near the Feb. 28 deadline, they can avoid the last-minute trip to the Courthouse.

On Saturday, Feb. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon, the Trustee’s Office will open taxpaying satellites at Oak Grove Elementary School, Hopewell Elementary School, Waterville Elementary School and in Bradley Square Mall near the central fountain.

On Saturday, Feb. 22, also from 9 a.m. to noon, the Trustee’s Office will open a Bradley Square Mall satellite again, but this one will be set up at the Kmart entrance. On the same day, the Trustee’s Office will be open in the Courthouse to accept tax payments, also from 9 a.m. to noon.

One reminder. No cash payments can be accepted at the satellite sites, but they can be taken at the Courthouse office.

Those planning to pay their property taxes at a satellite should bring with them their tax statement and check.

For additional information about the coming satellite locations, or any facet of the property tax payment process, call the Trustee’s Office at 728-7247. Or, for those who prefer face-to-face conversation, drop by the Courthouse office. Appointments are not required. The Bradley County Trustee’s Office is located in Suite 104 of the Courthouse at 155 North Ocoee St.

The Bradley County trustee is proud of both innovative programs — the partial payment plan and the Saturday satellites. He should be. Both give local government a good name.

He is just as proud of the hard work, and the customer service, of his staff. Smith credits the efforts of his deputy trustee, David Swallows, who manages the office’s partial payment programs. We say “programs” because the Trustee’s Office also provides partial pay plans for delinquent taxes; at least, for as long as these taxes remain in the oversight of the Trustee’s Office.

“Our partial pay programs are being excellently managed by David Swallows, and our staff, who operate them with the kind of professionalism and ownership that you would expect of someone who genuinely cares about quality of service,” Smith told our newspaper.

The trustee is correct on all points.

Quality programs are the first step in government effectiveness.

Delivering quality of service in the administration of those programs is the second. But in many ways, it is the most important.