On March 1, the tax year starts, and Webster County collector Kevin Farr receives the tax book showing all delinquent taxes that haven't been paid.
While most people don't want to think about taxes, it’s something Farr handles in his position. With the delinquent taxes, he does an annual settlement for the prior year.
"It takes about all month of March to finish up," said Farr. "We're doing all of February stuff and trying to get that out of the way. Then we will start compiling all of our numbers after that for the prior year. By statute, you have to do that. Everything has to balance out to the penny."
From there, Farr turns the numbers in to the clerk, who sends that into the State of Missouri. Of course, during the month of March, residents are paying their taxes. Farr explained in April, May and June, the Webster County Collector's Office prepares for tax sale and sends out tax bills to people who are in jeopardy of being in that tax sale.
"There's certified mailing we have to send out and priority occupants that we’re trying to contact," said Farr. "If we have bad addresses coming back to us, we try to do a search and get that corrected, so we can try and find these people. While we're taking taxes, some people are coming in and paying or doing that."
Farr said usually they are preparing for tax sale. In April, they start off with 200 properties that are in jeopardy of tax sale. By the time they get to the tax sale, it’s whittled down to 19 properties, according to Farr, who added that at that point they have to go to the courthouse steps to try and sell the properties. A delinquent tax certificate sale is held annually on the fourth Monday in August, and buyers gather outside the Webster County Courthouse to take part in the public auction. The list of properties subject to sale is published in The Marshfield Mail for three consecutive weeks prior to the sale.
"By the statutes of the State of Missouri, we have to sell those properties when they become three years delinquent," said Farr. "I have to sell the tax lien on that property. With most of those properties, there was a reason why it was sold. There's usually a problem with the property or someone has passed and had no relatives or family. Other times, properties will get redeemed when the individual will come in and redeem them."
After the delinquent tax certificate sale in August, things slow down a little for the Webster County Collector’s Office, but in September and October, they receive the tax levies from the clerk, which have been certified.
"In late September through October first, all of the numbers that are compiled by the assessor get transferred over to me, and then we add the tax levy to those numbers and that’s what creates the tax bill," said Farr. "We put the levies in and we start checking that to make sure it’s calculating all that stuff right. Every month, we're doing settlements. All the stuff we’ve taken, we have to do a settlement."
While putting levies in and transferring numbers over, the Webster County Collector's Office has someone print and mail statements because they don’t have the machinery to do that. Once these are printed, the Collector’s Office checks to make sure everything calculates correctly. In November, the office mails them out, and the bulk of the mail comes Jan. 2, according to Farr.
"It takes us until about Jan. 10 to complete December’s business, which is the biggest month that we've had," said Farr. "You have to do that settlement. January is usually pretty busy and February is pretty busy, but that completes our year. Then it starts all over again."
What people don’t see is the amount of searching that happens in the Collector's office, according to Farr, who described his work as being like a detective looking for people.
"It's their responsibility to make sure of any address changes that need to be made," said Farr. "If they move, it's their responsibility to let the Assessor's Office know that their address changed. We try to find them because we don’t want to have to sell their property, so we're sitting here searching for people’s addresses and trying to get this mailed to them. It's a big job."
Residents can use the Webster County Collector’s website to conduct research on real estate tax, receipts and statements. There’s also information about merchant licenses or where to pay sales tax on a new vehicle in Webster County.
"I think our website helps tax payers be able to do some research on properties," said Janel Heape, deputy collector of the Webster County Collector’s Office. "If they don't have access to computer or the internet, they can come into our office and do it the old-fashioned way."
In addition to Farr and Heape, Kelleigh Morgan serves as the administrative assistant in the Webster County Collector's Office.
"With this job, you have to have a good head for numbers," said Morgan. "I enjoy what I do because I get to interact with people and connect with them."