Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to make the public aware that the Treasurer’s Office has decided not to open the two satellite offices in Lake Havasu and Bullhead City as previously planned for collection of tax payments. Mohave County Attorney Bill Ekstrom advised Treasurer Cindy Cox that not accepting cash payments at the satellite offices was a violation of 1 U.S. Code § 5103 that states that United States coins and currency are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. “Cash payments have been accepted in the past with only one staff personnel at each location,” Supervisor Johnson said. According to Treasurer Cox, an additional $200,000 of needed security and personnel would be needed at each satellite office before cash payments could be allowed. “While different options were laid out for ways residents could still pay their tax payment in person without having to drive to Kingman or mail it in, the Treasurer still decided to shut down both locations for the time being,” Johnson continued.
According to Johnson, there are solutions out there that should be looked in to. “We are here to serve the people, and if they want to pay their property tax bill in person they should be allowed to,” Johnson stated. “An example of a no cost solution for county taxpayers is to mirror what Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office has done for over 10 years and that is partner with a bank branch,” Johnson suggested. “Maricopa County partners with Chase Bank to allow constituents who want to pay with a check the option of going to any Chase branch in the state with a check and their tax payment coupon. With Chase’s system, the bank is able to directly import the tax payer’s data and payment information to the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office electronically with very little paperwork and no risk of information getting lost in the mail,” Johnson explained. “They have partnered with Chase specifically for the past five years with no cost to county taxpayers. This is just one example of a solution for local residents. We need to be looking for solutions not just closing the doors,” Johnson continued.
Johnson suggested a low cost solution the Treasurer could consider is to partner with another county department already located in Lake Havasu and Bullhead. “The Treasurer could agree to pay half of an employee’s salary and benefits from that department, and along with that employee’s everyday duties, they could also be available to constituents year round who want to pay their taxes in person,” Johnson said. Supervisor Johnson stated that prior to 2014 his office collected payments year round from residents who wanted to pay with cash or money order. “I have never heard of an issue arising regarding security and the collection of tax payments at the satellite offices,” Johnson said. “My office gladly accepted the payments until we were told we were no longer allowed to,” Johnson continued.
Johnson also stated that a lock box use to be at the Mohave County Complex in Lake Havasu City for tax payers to drop payments into, but because no personnel from the Treasurer’s Office were employed down there Treasurer Cox removed it. “Re-installing this lock box and finding a way to collect the payments from it could also be another solution,” Johnson stated. “The Treasurer is allowed to set her own policy and hours, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s done with the taxpayer in mind,” Johnson said. “If the girl scouts can sit in front of Wal-Mart all day and collect thousands of dollars without having a booth with bullet proof glass and a security guard, I do not understand why our Treasurer cannot open the satellite offices and accept payments from the hard working citizens who pay her salary,” Johnson ended.
Johnson hopes a solution to this problem will be solved by the time the second installment of taxes is due.