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Mistake doubles up Island County tax statements

Many Island County property owners were alarmed when they opened their property tax statements this week and discovered two bills instead of one.

But taxpayers shouldn’t worry, Island County Treasurer Ana Maria Nunez said. They don’t have to pay twice and the double-printing won’t cost the county anything extra.

Nunez said she’s still trying to run down how the error occurred and just how many people received duplicate statements. In the meantime, her office is handling “multitudes of calls” from concerned property owners.

“If you received two statements that are exactly the same, you can get rid of one,” she advised.

Still, some property owners are upset about the confusion and the waste.

“Getting two of these when we are short on funds just isn’t acceptable,” Coupeville resident Madaline Deakin said, referring to the county’s budget problems. “Here the county is hurting, it’s the start of this year and from the look of things, it isn’t getting any better.”

Nunez, however, said the cost of the error will not be borne by the county.

Nunez said the office is still in the process of getting up to speed with the new True Automation software. Files created through the new software were sent to be printed and mailed to property owners by the Masters Touch, a printing company out of Spokane. It’s possible, Nunez said, that there were duplications in the True Automation files sent to the printer. She’s working with employees from both True Automation and Masters Touch to investigate.

“We’re trying to figure out where the error was made so we can fix the problem to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” she said.

In all, 53,000 property tax statements were sent out. The tax statements were sent out later than usual this year, which Nunez said was due to the “implementation and procedural changes” associated with True Automation, the software that replaced an outdated system used in both the treasurer’s and assessor’s offices.

First half taxes must be paid or postmarked by April 30.

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