As the start of the fiscal year now approaches, the quick and hectic turnaround time to mail out tax notices appears more and more imminent. So what can be done in the months leading up to the annual billing cycle?
We spoke with the Randolph County Tax staff – who has this process down to a science – to put together this 5-step list of best practices to help you prepare for a smooth success in the months leading up to the big day.
Step 1: Set Annual Billing Process Deadlines
- Each year, by the end of May or first of June, hold a combined meeting between your Tax, Finance, and IT staff members to set deadlines for all processes related to annual billing. In this meeting, outline any outstanding issues and prioritize any issues directly related to Billing that may need to be resolved.
Step 2: Verify Your Billing Data
- Using your current Billing & Collections system, use queries to determine the validity of your data. For example, try running a query to ensure that all abstracts contain their proper taxing jurisdictions.
- Keep a list of any billing errors that have been made in the past and track these issues from year-to-year to ensure that the same mistakes are not made twice.
Step 3: Sync Current Data to Test Servers
- By early June, enlist key IT staff members to ensure that your test servers for Trial Billing are imported and updated with your current, verified billing data.
- Compare the real estate values between your B&C system and your Computer Aided Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system. For example, check the totals from CAMA for parcel count, land value, real building, deferred value, historical deferred value, and total real property values.
Step 4: Trial Billing
- After your CAMA & B&C data is synced with your test servers, begin your initial testing for the annual billing process.Trial billing consists of running through the annual billing cycle on your test servers to ensure the data is validated.
- If issues in trial billing are located, clean up the data causing the issues before taking the next steps in the process.
- Repeat the trial billing cycle to ensure that the revised data being entered during testing is not flawed. It is suggested to repeat this cycle weekly until your annual billing day arrives.
Step 5: Set Cutoff Date for Data Entry
- By mid-June set a data entry cutoff date in your county tax office for all CAMA and Assessment staff. No data can be entered or changed after this date for the current billing year. If applicable, have IT staff set the Assessment staff user access rights to “ready only”.
- The purpose of the cutoff date is to prevent your Billing numbers from continuously changing – if your numbers continue to change it is like you are chasing a moving target.
- Any changes that occur after your cutoff date will be made after you perform the annual billing process.
So, as you start to make your plans for the upcoming billing process, just remember to refer to this 5-step list to annual billing bliss!