New Castle County adds unpaid code fines to business, residential tax bills

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Annual New Castle County government and school district tax bills are being mailed to business and residential property owners next week. This time around, unpaid code violations will be included in the bill.

The combined billing statements contain county property taxes and local school district property taxes which are both collected by New Castle County’s Office of Finance.

School district property taxes account for more than 75 percent of the average total property tax bill and New Castle County property taxes account for the remaining 25 percent.

County property taxes are the largest source of county government revenue and funds more than 60 percent of general fund expenditures, including most of the county’s public services.

The taxes remain a mystery to many in the county since many bills are mailed to and paid out through mortgage escrow accounts.

This year’s bills also include unpaid county code enforcement fines and fees in a new effort to recoup more than $1 million owed by property owners.

Historically, the county government’s authority to collect unpaid code enforcement fines and fees was limited.

The county responded by getting a change in state law that gives local governments the authority to add these debts to tax bills and County Council adopted this practice into county law last year. The additions include:

  • Vacant property registration fees and fines
  • Abatement expenses paid by the county to maintain commercial properties
  • Abatement expenses paid by the county to maintain vacant residential properties
  • Hearing and administrative fees and fines

The county has been more aggressive in collecting unpaid property taxes since Meyer took office. Collection efforts brought in $16 million in delinquent taxes and fees.

County property taxes fund county police, paramedics and 911 communications, along with libraries, parks and other services including code enforcement.

Unlike Kent and Sussex County, New Castle has its own county police force in unincorporated areas. Sussex County does pay for the costs of a couple of dozen state troopers.

Annual county and school tax payments are due by September 30.

Property owners can access their property tax information and verify their payment status online using the County’s Parcel View page at www.nccde.org/parcelview.

Those who misplace their billing statement can download a duplicate from this site, which also provides detailed account information including payment history and a breakout of specific charges for property, school, light, and crossing guard taxes.

Any unpaid balance after the September 30 deadline is subject to a 6 percent penalty and an additional 1 percent penalty each month thereafter.

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