TARGET 8: Hillsborough property tax bills lost in USPS limbo

Maureen Metzler of Wimauma did not get her tax bill.
Maureen Metzler of Wimauma did not get her tax bill.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Somewhere in the vast expanse of the U.S. Postal Service, sat Maureen Metzler’s property tax bill notice.  It, along with hundreds of others was lost.

Why is that a big deal?

“It’s important to me and I think to other homeowners because you get a big discount if you pay before November 30th.  If you’re new to the area you might not be aware of that,” said Metzler.

The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office tells Target 8 that roughly 455,000 tax bill notices went out October 31st.

Metzler didn’t get hers.  She sent an email to her neighbors in Wimauma’s Valencia Lakes community, asking if they received their bills.  Dozens responded, “No.”

“Did not receive our tax bill, Didn’t get mine either,” her email responses said. “Didn’t get mine either, Didn’t get ours either, Both my sister-in-law and I never received ours.”

The Tax Collector’s office told Metzler that all the tax bills went out and the end of October. So, she contacted the Wimauma Post Office.

“I then got a return phone call from the Wimauma postmaster telling me that there was a problem and that he had started an investigation into the missing tax bills,” Metzler added.

Metzler contacted Target 8.

I found the Tax Collector’s, Community Relations director Nancy Millan working on a similar complaint from another Wimauma homeowner. How many tax bills were missing?  She had no idea.

According to records obtained by Target 8, the county was billed about $76,000 dollars by a private vendor, GenesisDirect, to print up and package tax notices.

Taxpayers also shelled out another $169,000 for postage, whether you received your bill or not.

“By Florida law, it does put the onus on the property owner to know that their bill is due,” explained Nancy Millan.

GenesisDirect laid the blame for the 320 missing tax statements on the U.S. Postal Service.

“We have determined that this mail was part of a larger mailing and a majority of the pieces have been delivered,” U.S.P.S. spokesperson Enola Rice responded by email on Wednesday.  “We are disappointed to learn some of the mail has not been delivered in Wimauma.  We are investigating and apologize for any inconvenience.”

On Thursday afternoon, Ms. Rice relayed that the missing statements were located.  They had been sent to the wrong postal facility and that they would be delivered sometime Thursday.  She pointed out that most of the half million pieces of mail sent by the Tax Collector’s office were in fact delivered in a timely manner.

Hillsborough county Tax Collector Doug Belden called the mistake inexcusable.

If you did not receive a tax bill you can go online at http://www.hillstax.org to look up your statement.  You can also pay your property tax bill online.

If you have something that you think should be investigated contact Target 8 at our 8 On Your Side Helpine 1 800 338-0808.

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