Napa County’s busiest place of business on Thursday was a row of three glass booths inside the Administration Building, where residents had one last day to pay their property taxes. But even with a 5 p.m. deadline looming, many of the final-day arrivals saw no reason to come by any sooner than necessary.

“I can’t see me giving them interest I’ve been earning for myself,” Jeff Davis of Napa said, shortly after passing a green envelope to a county Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office employee shortly before 11:30 a.m. “I’m not a procrastinator, but it seems too dumb to lose interest.”

“I just want to hang on to my money as long as I can!” Christine Schalwitz, another Napan, said with a hearty laugh. “But it’s also making sure I have a little extra padding I might need for an emergency. You can’t avoid property taxes but I do like to hang on to it.”

“Keeping my money for as long as possible; I’m sure that’s everybody’s answer,” Chad Williams said, arriving to pay assessments on his Napa home and an investment property. For Williams and some others, waiting brought another benefit: a chance to file federal and state taxes earlier, then use a refund check to soften the blow on a county assessment.

April 10 is the deadline for property owners to send in the second of their two tax installments for 2013-14. Curbside signs on Third Street, facing the Administration Building, marked the occasion — 15 minutes per space, for taxpayers only — and a quiet but constant flow of envelope-holding visitors led to the payment windows of the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office.

The department does not add to its regular 13-person staff on deadline day, but Thursday’s activity was “all hands on deck — whether it’s opening mail, working the phones, working the counter, we’re all here 8 to 5,” said Treasurer Tamie Frasier.

A broad array of cities, schools and special districts are funded from the 1 percent property tax, plus special assessments, charged on a property’s assessed value. School districts and the county Office of Education receive about 65 percent of the revenue, the county 22 percent, cities 11 percent and a group of 10 water, fire and other districts 1.8 percent, according to Auditor-Controller Tracy Schulze.

County residents also were able to meet the deadline by mailing their forms with a postmark for the due date, but many morning visitors found it easier to pay in person, especially those prone to waiting until the final day.

“I work right next door for the county, in the traffic division (of the courthouse), so it’s convenient,” Krisi Pilkington said while preparing to pay the assessment on her condominium.

“I’m one of the procrastinators here in Napa!” she added with a chuckle. “But I’m not holding onto my money; my tax actually went down this year with a revaluation, so I’m glad for that.”

“This is the first time I’ve paid on the last day,” said James Wagner of Napa. “My wife’s out of town; she’s usually the one to handle this. With federal taxes I’m usually filing for extensions; under the name ‘Wagner’ you can file ‘procrastinator.’”

Another taxpayer arrived not to pay the assessment on her own home, but on a historic landmark.

Nancy Levenberg, executive director of the Napa County Historical Society, was preparing to leave the county the group’s second tax installment on the Henry Haus Blacksmith Shop, a wooden structure built in 1897 in Pope Valley. The experience was an unexpectedly relaxing one, and not only because of the featherweight $6.73 bill. (The historical society does not pay property tax on its First Street home, the Goodman Library, which the city of Napa owns.)

“I’m a block away so I can wait until the last minute, and it gets me out of the office,” she said. “I worked Upvalley for years (as president of the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce) and I never once paid (property tax) in person, but now it’s fun.”

(8) comments

Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes

Why doesn't the Napa Valley Register write an article about all of the school bond taxes on our property taxes and try to explain them to the community?

Flaneur

Agreed Mashed Potatoes, a well-investigated article would be nice. My guess is that like every other newspaper, the NVR does not have enough reporters to cover all worthy stories, or to do follow-ups. And their reporters are -- reportedly -- young, and not in the job long, which means less background familiarity with local issues (an experienced reporter with local roots surely has a big head start on whom to ask, and what to ask). Perhaps a local organization, or an individual with time to kill (all the commenters here!) could prepare a fact sheet or a FAQ about taxes, which should provoke discussions, corrections, explanations, awareness. Isn't there a local taxpayers' group? What do they spend their time on? Maybe you should start this, since you are motivated.

Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes

To Flaneur. Maybe you didn't see NVR reporter Isabelle Dills' well researched article on the Napa Valley Unified. and Napa college using toxic Capital Appreciation Bonds last spring. I think the Register writers are very talented and, fair and honest in their reporting. And, yes there is a Taxpayers Association and it gave Isabelle an award for her great article.

glenroy
glenroy

Our bond cost went up 2 grand this year....over the last 10 years our 'sewer' fees are up 500%....

Stealing the wealth of the middle class fair and square...

Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes

It's noting at all about being frugal. Have you seen a local property tax bill lately? Have you compared one with a tax bill on the same property 12 years ago? If you did you would see a massive number of school taxes on the local property tax bills. Have you seen all of the school bond taxes now on everyone's property tax bills? It takes a long time to add up all the school bond taxes on your property tax bills and try to figure them out and where they came from and why they are going up since the bond money is all spent...I don't think the average person knows anything about these school taxes...I don't even think the school district or the college can explain them to you either.

Old Time Napkin

I believe it was once calculated that you work 3 months of the year just to pay taxes. I suspect with the appetite of government it has probably increased to 4 months.

glenroy
glenroy

Frugal might be a tad off the mark….thought there are a few wealthy who are extraordinarily frugal….but if not most a large part of those who wait to pay their property taxes do so because it’s a big hit on their finances…they sacrifice so they can have a home for their children. Sadly because of liberal politics our government does all they can to punish those who can least afford homeownership. Unless you been there is might not understand the stress and strain the majority have to go through.

That’s the part of the world that works long and hard for a decent living….who pays their retirement and the government employee's retirement though he/she makes less than that government employee.....Welcome to liberalism.

foss valley

Frugal? Or those that don't want the county/city to make more off of their hard earned money then they are supposed to ?

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