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Questions and answers on city taxes

Clarksville, TN – As the Feb. 28 deadline for city taxes draws near, most residents don’t realize the city Finance Department has a program that can help ease their tax burden next year.

Unfortunately, help isn’t available for current due taxes, but partial tax payments can be made throughout the year to the Finance Department, somewhat like an escrow account on a mortgage.

“Our accounting system allows us to take partial payments and track those for our citizens,” said Commissioner of Finance Ben Griffin. “There are no contracts to sign and no minimum payment to be made.

“A taxpayer can make a partial payment as they are able to do so. Residents may even set it up to make monthly installments, but they can also skip a month when money is tight.”

To make such an arrangement, residents should contact Regina Hampton or anyone in the Finance Department at 645-7436.

Clarksville resident Linda Campbell submitted a question to the Mayor’s Office about property taxes, which was forwarded by clarksvilleonline.com, and part of Griffin’s response was to inform her of the partial payment option.

Griffin said not many people were aware of the option, so I asked Ms. Campbell if I could use her question to get the word out to others. She agreed and also said it would be OK for anyone in the media to contact her via cell phone at 216-7653.

She said she plans to use the option next year.

Here are her questions along with Griffin’s response:

Good morning. I am sending this email to forward to our mayor. I, being a property owner and single person, the changes in paying the property taxes from February and May to all in February has caused a hardship on myself and not sure of other property owners. Why was the split changed? In our economy these days, many of us are trying to split many bills for payment. And forcing the payment of both city and county into same payment time frame seems unfair and demanding, I live in the city. I have been lucky enough to keep my house and property and not lose it. Could there be any way to put the property taxes back to split payments as they were for as long as I can remember until changes 1 to 2 years ago, I believe.

Thank you for your time,

Linda Campbell

Griffin’s response:

The City’s prior policy of giving taxpayers until May to pay their property taxes was out of touch with how the majority of cities in the state collect taxes. Our current policy reflects what most cities do on property tax payment due dates, and we have actually received a very few complaints about the change.

The reason for the change was that property taxes are our biggest revenue source and the May due date was adversely affecting our cash flow, which indirectly resulted in the city having to maintain a higher fund balance while we waited for the property taxes to come due. By law, the city is required to maintain at least 20 percent of its total budget as a reserve.

As a convenience for city taxpayers, the first-floor lobby of City Hall, where pay windows for taxes are located, continues to remain open an extra 30 minutes through month’s end. Additionally, the windows will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 26.


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