Dan McAllister, county treasurer-tax collector isn’t sure if it’s a record, but with some $249 million in delinquent property taxes, he has more than a little work cut out for him. 

The nearly quarter of a billion figure is out of $4.55 billion the county set out to collect last September. McAllister noted that while there has been about a 1 percent decline in the number of delinquencies from last year, the dollar amount climbed by about $12 million to the current $249 million.

“It is a small amount relative to the overall number, ($4.55 billion) but it is still a lot of money,” McAllister said.  The treasurer-tax collector will now be sending 71,478 delinquent notices to San Diego County taxpayers who failed to pay either biannual installment of their property taxes.

When asked what he will do to collect, McAllister said late notices and calls will be made.  “And we visit people,” McAllister said.

McAllister said delinquent payers are already subject to a 10 percent penalty. Taxpayers then have until Tuesday, June 30, 2009 to pay their property taxes or an additional penalty of 1.5 percent per month, or 18 percent per year, will be added to their tax bill. Active duty military must still pay their taxes, but are not subject to the late fees.

Property owners requesting a reassessment of their property are still required to pay the amount that was printed on their tax bill statement. If they are granted a lower assessment, a refund will be issued. 

If the property owners continue to fail to pay their taxes, assessments and penalties continue to accrue for the next five years, after which time the property may be sold at a tax sale.

The types of property included range widely from land and homes to boats and aircraft, but McAllister said that more than 90 percent of the assets assessed are real property.

McAllister’s office boasts about a 96 percent successful collection rate, but he concedes this figure may well decline when an expected wave of foreclosures hits San Diego County around mid-summer. McAllister expects the market to improve after that, however.

“I remain optimistic. San Diego’s housing market has proven itself to be very resilient,” he said.

The realization that nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in property taxes are delinquent comes when San Diego County is in one of the rare times when there is a projected reduction in the total assessed valuation. It appears the projected assessed valuation for the fiscal year ended June 30 will be roughly $399 billion, off about $10 billion from $409.3 billion last year.

Some municipalities are faring worse than others.  Chula Vista, which got hammered by foreclosures in places such as Otay Ranch and EastLake, is projected to post about a 7.34 percent decline in its assessed valuation. This will mark the second year in a row that Chula Vista experienced a downturn.  Lemon Grove is projected to post an 8.97 percent decline and the city of San Diego is projected to see a 1.35 percent drop in its assessed valuation.

Some cities are bucking the devaluation trend, but these are in the expensive coastal areas of the county. Del Mar for example, is expected to have improved its overall assessed value by 4.55 percent by the end of the fiscal year in June. Coronado is expected to have climbed by 3.41 percent and Solana Beach’s assessed valuation is projected to go up by about 1.88 percent.

This year’s totals will continue to be tallied until the end of next month. Last year’s tally assessed 975,679 parcels, 159,183 businesses, 75,305 boats, 22,923 manufactured homes and 5,189 aircraft.

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