The Sampson County Tax Office has unveiled service improvements that now allow residents to bypass lines in favor of viewing and paying tax bills at any time via the web.
Starting this month, citizens can access tax bills and make payments online through the “Citizen Self Service” program on the county’s website, at www.sampsonnc.com.
Tax administrator Jim Johnson made the announcement to the Sampson County Board of Commissioners earlier this week. He also updated the board on further tax-related service improvements in the works, notably a mass appraisal software overhaul for which the county is paying $600,000.
The online payment options are another way to extend easy access to citizens, Johnson said.
“We’ve talked over the last several months quite a bit about giving more information, more reliable and up-to-date information, to our citizens of Sampson County,” said Johnson. “On Nov. 1, we took our first big step by launching a new website for viewing and paying tax bills. Up until Nov. 1, the only bills that our citizens could access were unpaid property bills. Now, any tax bill that we have in our system, whether paid or unpaid — it doesn’t matter what kind, if it’s personal property, motor vehicle, real property — those bills can be accessed by the general public as well.”
Once on the county website, taxpayers can select the option “Tax Office E-Services” under the quick links to go to the Citizen Self Service site. From that site, all paid and unpaid tax bills for real estate, personal property and motor vehicles can be viewed or paid. Those payments will be credited by the next business day and convenience fees apply to all web payments.
“We constantly endeavor to make county services more accessible and convenient for our citizens,” county manager Ed Causey said. “A very good example of these efforts is the improvement to the Tax Office’s Citizen Self Service software.”
Johnson said more than a month was spent developing the pages for the website, which were then tested. The tax administrator said the system is working well thus far.
“It’s fairly simple to use, very straight-forward, but we really think the general public is going to like the new website,” said Johnson. “We’ve already gotten some positive feedback from some of the local attorneys and banks about being able to pull up these paid bills. They can go back as far as 12 years now and pull up bills, the same bills we can access at the office. They’ve never been able to do that before.”
Related links can also be found there, including the websites for the Department of Revenue and the School of Government. Additionally, tax forms for disabled veterans and elderly exemptions, as well as land use applications, are also available at the click of a button.
“There’s just a lot more information on this new website that is available to the public that they’ve never had access to before without coming into the office and getting it,” Johnson said. “Staff has worked extremely hard over the last month to get the website up and going. We tested it and it does seem to be working really well. We would like to encourage all the citizens of Sampson County to go to the website.”
Johnson also gave an update on a CAMA (computer-assisted mass appraisal) software overhaul that would bring specific soil classifications and real-time tax updates into land appraisals, while in the process alleviating years of tedious double-entry by staff and tax bill errors that come with that.
The positive effects could be felt by the public as early as April 2013.
In July, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved purchasing new CAMA software, awarding a bid to Tyler Technologies Inc. at an annual cost of $101,000 for six years.
Last year, commissioners voted to set aside money to fund the needed software, budgeting $200,000 for 2011-12 and another $200,000 in the current 2012-13 budget for the first two years of the three-installment, $600,000 overhaul. Another $200,000 is expected in 2013-14.
The new software would be able to enhance revenue collection, increase Tax Office efficiency and correct duplicate data entry and errors within the Tax Office’s antiquated system, county staff has said. They said that without double-entry, steps could be cut out and improvements already made, such as the Geographic Information System, could be built upon.
“We have been meeting with Tyler Technologies, who is the vendor for our new appraisal software,” Johnson said. “If all goes to plan, they’ve laid out a detailed schedule for us and we plan to go live approximately April of next year with a new appraisal package. At that time, we hope to give access for the general public to property record cards online. Once we reach that point, basically any information we can give to the general public in the office, they’ll be able to extract that information from their offices or the comfort of their own home.”
Commissioners praised Johnson and the Tax Office personnel for their efforts in extending service delivery improvements to local taxpayers. The tax administrator said it is still a work in progress, but positive steps were being taken.
“It’s just a big step in the right direction, as far as getting the information to the public and make it more accessible to them,” said Johnson, “We’re not there yet, but we feel like we’re going in the right direction.”
For more information, contact the Sampson County Tax Office at 910-592-8146 or visit www.sampsonnc.com.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.