By Jamie Singer
Vice President, Treasury Services Manager
NMLS # 662910
Until this year, if you wanted to make your Sangamon County property tax payment in person, you had the choice of stopping by the County Building or one local credit union which offered its drive-up facility.
When the county recently lost this drive-up option, INB stepped in and offered to take payments at any of its eight Sangamon County branches. For the payment due in June, INB collected 5 percent more payments than had been collected at the single location the year before. Along with 245 fewer payments to process at the County Building, the new collection locations meant the county didn’t have to staff an offsite location.
Sangamon County Treasurer Tom Cavanagh says that under the old arrangement, the county sent three clerks to the drive-up site on South Grand Avenue. At INB, we were able to use our staff to accept the payments, allowing county staff to stay at the County Building and handle payments and other job responsibilities there.
If someone pays a tax bill at the County Building, the staff verifies the amount paid is the amount due, and the taxpayer receives a computer-generated receipt. When working from a remote location in years’ past, county employees had full access to the county’s computer system and were able to provide this same service. Our employees don’t have this access, so we simply provide a hand-written receipt acknowledging whatever payment the taxpayer provides.
The big advantage to our manual process and not being dependent on computers is everyone on staff can help take payments. We had two very busy days during the June payment period: Monday and Thursday of the week payments were due. Luckily, our branch managers, assistant managers, bankers and even some non-retail staff could step in and produce receipts.
For most typical tax payments, writing a receipt wasn’t a big deal. But when a property owner came in with payments for a number of properties, we sometimes struggled to keep the line moving as quickly as we would have liked.
Our downtown facility handled the most payments: 645 of the 4,622. Downtown had the most business because a sign posted at the former drive-thru facility directed people to our Capitol Avenue location. But it was good to see the other 4,000 taxpayers taking advantage of INB locations nearest them.
Even with over 4,600 payments coming through our bank, that’s only 5 percent of the total number of tax bills. According to Cavanagh, most taxpayers pay via the U.S. postal service. And even though the last week before payment are due is always a busy time, the Treasurer’s Office statistics show that less than half the payments come in that week, meaning more than half the taxpayers don’t wait until the last minute!
INB plans to take tax payments again for the September installment. We plan to use the same process we used in the spring. We simply ask customers and taxpayers for patience as we assist the county by taking the payments.