Cass County Board: Electronic bill payment now in the majority
WALKER--Cass County now pays more of its bills electronically than by paper checks, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported to the county board as part of her annual report presented Tuesday.
WALKER-Cass County now pays more of its bills electronically than by paper checks, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported to the county board as part of her annual report presented Tuesday.
The county has e-deposited all incoming checks since 2007 and keeps the record of those checks electronically as well. Paper checks are destroyed after 60 days, Anderson said.
That office has reduced staff by two positions in the last 10 years, partially by switching to more electronic activity.
A goal in 2016 will be to transition to secure, electronic personnel file management within the existing imaging software system. In 2015, the office redesigned its land sale database, invoicing and buyer information.
The use of paper mail and of telephone calls has declined as people increase their use of electronic communications. The county increasingly collects more fees electronically, especially for planning and zoning permits.
The county outsourced its property tax statement printing and mailing for the first time in 2015.
In its election oversight, the auditor-treasurer office has seen growth in the use of absentee balloting.
Cass County has 73 voting precincts. In 1994, 28 of those chose to switch to mailed ballots rather than to have voting at their local township or city polling place. This year, 44 precincts will vote by mailed ballots.
Since 2008, mailed ballot precincts drew significantly more voters for primary elections, but the percent of voters in general elections was about comparable to those retaining voting in person at the precinct polling place.
The number of rejected absentee ballots has dropped from 15 percent in the 2010 election primary to only 2.7 percent in the 2014 general election.
The auditor-treasurer office records and retains birth and death records and issues licenses for businesses, events and marriages.
Business permits the office issues include those for precious metals dealer, mass gatherings, fireworks, auctioneer licenses, cigarette licenses, beer and liquor licenses. Only fireworks permits have increased since 2003.
Annual auctioneer licenses have dropped from nine to two; cigarette from 56 to 38; beer from 40 to 32; and liquor from 51 to 43 since 2003.
The office issued the fewest marriage licenses when the recession hit in 2008, with only 55 issued. There were 67 issued in 2015. Births hit a peak in 2007 right before the recession with 666, then declined annually to only 280 in 2013, but have increased to 388 in 2015.
Cash and investments the auditor-treasurer office managed at the end of 2015 totaled $70.6 million. Of that $64,622,929 was from the county general fund; $4,774,814 was from a land department trust fund where the county has to retain the principal, but may spend interest earnings; and $1,210,908 was being managed for a multi-county computer consortium of which Cass is a member county.
County investment earnings have exceeded beginning of the year budget projections every year since 1996 except in 2003 and 2012.
The county mailed property tax statements to 2,473 landowners in 2014 at addresses with 2,473 different zip codes, some of which were international.
Anderson said she is seeing an increasing number of landowners paying their taxes fully in May rather than paying half in October.
Cass County taxpayers are pretty good at keeping their property tax payments current. Even during the recession, the rate for late payment delinquencies ran 2.81 percent and was at only 1.82 percent in 2015.
The county published in April as many as 119 potential tax delinquencies, but landowners resolved all but 36 that actually forfeited in the peak year of 2013. Published notices were fewest in 2006 when 51 notices were published. Fourteen actually forfeited that year.
In 2015, the county published 78 notices in April. Sixteen of those actually forfeited by year end. Those included 13 for land only and three with buildings on them.