Partial payment plan aids needs of the people

Posted 11/8/17

It’s this simple: A government that hears the voices of its people, and then responds accordingly, is a compassionate — and more importantly, a responsible — government.Some might argue such a …

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Partial payment plan aids needs of the people

Posted

It’s this simple: A government that hears the voices of its people, and then responds accordingly, is a compassionate — and more importantly, a responsible — government.

Some might argue such a relationship is not the norm in today’s legislative protocol. In certain halls of government, some believe, leaders open their eyes to the people during the campaign season and then look the other way after their successful bids for office.

The point is arguable, especially at the national level where Washington, D.C., lawmakers seemingly spend more time bickering over partisan notions than they do listening to the concerns — and working together to meet the needs — of the people whose votes sent them there.

But here in Bradley County just the opposite can be found because of a program whose birth is credited to the will of the people, and it came seven years ago.

We speak of the partial payment plan (also known as the 12-month payment plan) that allows local homeowners who need this kind of flexibility to pay their property taxes over a period of time. It is an option to the longstanding once-a-year, lump-sum payment that too often strains the pocketbooks of residents — many of them elderly — who no longer have the spending power they enjoyed in their working years.

The program is simple. Those who need smaller payments — with the understanding they remain responsible for their entire year’s worth of taxes — may break their payments into monthly, quarterly or biannual amounts, depending on their individual needs and cash flow.

In this circumstance, most choose monthly. As an example, a taxpayer facing a $500 annual tax bill may break the amount into smaller monthly chunks that would equate to about a $42 payment. A quarterly payment on this same amount would be $125, or $250 based on a biannual agreement.

Methods of payment include personal check, credit card, cash or automatic withdrawal from an established bank account. And, taxpayers can make their payments using the U.S. Postal Service, automatic withdrawal or the old-fashioned way — they can drop by the Trustee’s temporary office in person.

And by the way, until Trustee Mike Smith and his staff return to the Bradley County Courthouse in the wake of the recent fire, the department is located at 1701 Keith St. in the old SouthEast Bank building at the intersection of 17th and Keith streets.

In this community, the partial payment plan is indeed a special one because Smith and his staff developed it at the behest of local taxpayers who needed this kind of flexibility.

Smith began fielding requests about eight years ago, and in 2010 the partial payment plan was unveiled. At its inception, the program’s goal was to enroll at least 500 parcels within the first five years. That number was reached, and easily eclipsed, in only three.

The numbers have continued to grow. To date, 1,336 parcels are enrolled in the installment plan. As the popular program enters its eighth year, Smith knows it will grow even more.

Here’s an important reminder: The first of two enrollment periods for 2018 taxes is now underway. The current signup will continue through Dec. 8. The second registration period will begin Jan. 3 and conclude Feb. 9 in 2018.

For those signing up for the partial payment plan, the first payment for 2018 taxes will be due March 15, 2018.

A partial payment program is also available for current and delinquent real and personal taxes.

For those who struggle to make an annual lump-sum payment, the partial plan is ideal.

Additional information about partial payment can be obtained by calling the Trustee’s Office at 423-728-7247, or, just drop in. Office hours remain the same in the temporary SouthEast Bank building location: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

At the end of each of his weekly columns published in the Tuesday edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, Mayor D. Gary Davis likes to point to any number of traits that contribute to Bradley County being “… Tennessee at its best.”

At the risk of plagiarizing the mayor’s theme, may we add the Trustee Office’s partial payment plan to his list. 

Truly, this taxpayer-friendly amenity plays a hand in making Bradley County Tennessee at its best.

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