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Tax Collector explains county finances

Lucette Moramarco

Associate Editor

San Diego County Tax Collector Dan McAllister visited Fallbrook Wednesday, Sept. 6 to give residents an update on the county's financial status, in the conference room at the Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society Museum.

McAllister said there have been interesting changes in the last few years. More taxes are being paid, so there is more revenue from property taxes. For the last six to seven years, (except for 2020 because of Covid), 99% of property taxes has been collected each year with less than 1% late payments.

This year, his office sent out 45,000 reminders to late payers. He let everyone know that if a property owner does not pay their property taxes for five years, the county can sell the property. "People do pay on time overall in San Diego County," he said. McAllister added that "because of the run in the market, more money is coming in as people are paying more money than the house was worth, causing a reassessment and a new tax basis.

He also explained how Covid benefited his office With the offices closed, people had to go on electronic pay; 73% of property tax payments are now made online. Since more people are paying online, they don't need big offices; they also have new, different equipment and can do a better job. So, the cost of collecting taxes has gone down.

McAllister's office also oversees the county's Treasury, managing the financial pool for school, water, and fire districts, etc. For the first time ever, that pool is at $17.2 billion. They also issue bonds to raise funds for projects like the airport expansion, as well as house the money for 200 different agencies.

There are 17 different languages spoken in the Tax Collector's office and they have brought in younger college graduates, (as employees have retired), who can explain property taxes to immigrants. There are 125 employees, most of whom work in the downtown office. Their mission is to "collect, invest and distribute," he said.

They limit the kinds of investments made, meaning stocks are not an option as they are too risky. McAllister said, "We abide by guidelines, 77-80% of the portfolio is triple A rated investments."

North County Fire Chief Keith McReynolds asked if the trends in income from the last six to seven years will continue. McAllister said that there has been an increase of one and a half billion dollars in higher property tax appraisals, and budgeting is key to making good decisions.

McReynolds said that the increase in property tax has enabled North County Fire to renovate one fire station so far with another in the planning stages, and plan for building a new one. Another benefit to the increased income is the reinvestment in their growing organization for the community, he said. They will also be adding a fourth ambulance later this year.

A resident asked a question about paying her tax bill; she usually mails a check. McAllister explained that she can pay online with an e-check for free. The money is transferred from the payer's bank account directly to the county tax collector.

For more information on paying taxes and what the money is used for, visit https://www.sdttc.com/.

 

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