By now, you should have received your “dreaded” summer tax bill from whatever city, village or township that you live in across Berrien County and those bills will be coming due very soon. Every unit in the county has a summer tax due date of mid-September with the exception of the City of Buchanan, where that bill was due back on Monday, August 12th, and the City of New Buffalo where the bill isn’t due until October 1st.
Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski reminds everyone that there are options available to you. He says, “Sometimes taxpayers get scared when they see their tax bill.” He notes that while the bill can be overwhelming for some, you should know that, “You can make any payment you can to your local unit of government, if you don’t have all the money at one time.” Paying at least part of the bill can help avoid the risk of foreclosure.
Witkowski offers advice to new homeowners who have purchased a property in the last quarter or so who may have not yet received the summer tax bill, “Should call their local government office immediately to get a copy of the bill, because it may have gone to the former owner.” He says especially those who bought a property in May, June or July of this year could face that issue.
The Treasurer, who has established payment plans to help keep homeowners and other property owners from losing their holdings to foreclosure due to delinquent taxes, also sees another issue for some people. He says, “I also see a lot of people who paid off their mortgage, who forget that tax bills still arrive.” He notes, “In the past their taxes were often placed into escrow as a part of their monthly payment house payment. So if you are one of the fortunate people who no longer has a mortgage, you should still make sure that you are now getting the tax bill since it is no longer being placed into an escrow account for you.”
On a side note, Witkowski reminds those who live in a Berrien County village, “You will have two summer tax bills to pay in September…one for your village and one for the township that your village is a part of.”
When you take a look at the total tax bill for Berrien County residents, you can understand why it’s an important time of year for Mr. Witkowski. He says that here in 2019 the total tax bill comes to $263,551,888.00. Of that total, $158,131,132.00 is slated to be collected in the summer tax bills sitting on kitchen tables and desks across the region.
If you have any questions regarding the tax bill you have, you should reach out first to your local unit of government, and if you need additional help, Witkowski’s office in the Berrien County Administration Center on Main Street in St. Joseph is always willing to help taxpayers in need.