To save money, town officials have merged the Tax Collection and Sewer Billing offices this year, eliminating one full-time and one part-time position.
Now, they are hoping Holmdel property tax owners will move towards paying their bills directly through the township's new and improved online payment system, launched in June.
“I'd love everyone to pay this way,” said Tax Collector and Acting CFO Jeannette Larrison about the Edmunds & Associates system, which has replaced the Cit-e-Net system. “I’m confident its very user friendly, and it has the added convenience of being able to track your payments, and you can see what you’ve paid over the years.” Online sewer billing will be added next month, she said.
Larrison sends out 6,200 tax bills annually. A good number of property owners pay their taxes through their mortgage company. But others walk them into Town Hall, drop them off at the collection box outside Town Hall's front door, or send them through the mail, all of which requires personnel to open envelopes and enter the payments manually. They also spend time responding to inquiries about past payments.
About 300 people are currently paying through their personal bank's automatic bill pay system. But that too creates work for the clerks.
"If you pay through your bank, people don't realize they actually mail us an e-check," said Larrison. Those payments still require manual entry into the system. Sometimes the electronic check does not arrive at Town Hall for as long as 9-15 days after payment, triggering late fees. And because it can be difficult for electronic payers to figure out where to put the Block and Lot number on the payment, the clerks waste time on trying to figure it out.
Paying the bill directly into the township's system requires almost no assistance from the clerks. "And there's no room for error," said Larrison.
In addition, the Edmunds & Associates system can also accommodate users who wish to have their payments directly withdrawn from their bank accounts on the 6th of each quarter.
The new system costs the township $350 a year, and users are required to pay a flat convenience fee of $1.05 for the transaction, which is paid to Edmunds' payment processing portal, not the township.
By state statute, unpaid property tax bills are subject to stiff fines. The interest is 8% on the first $1500, and 18% for amounts higher, said Larrison. The township offers a ten day grace period.
The first big test of the new online system will be in August. But Larrison expects there will be plenty of walk-ins, as usual, too.
"You get a mad rush at the end of the quarter," said Larrison. "People don't want to be late."