If the listings of Wake County’s property tax liens printed Friday’s editions of The News & Observer seemed thicker than usual, you’re correct.
In March 2008, the county’s annual list of unpaid tax bills included listings for 12,100 past due parcels.
This year’s list was up to 16,071 parcels — an increase of nearly 33 percent.
Wake revenue director Marcus Kinrade said the actual amount of tax dollars outstanding is actually not that much more, however. As of March 6, the county had collected 96.12 percent of all outstanding taxes, compared to 96.25 percent collected through the same date last year.
Kinrade said the increased linage in the newspaper is largely due to the number of developers with unpaid taxes on multiple parcels, often undeveloped lots. That led to more parcels on the list, though the actual taxes owed on each lot are often relatively modest.
And while the uptick in parcels with unpaid taxes is a symptom of the region’s economic troubles, it would be disingenuous for WakeWatch to ignore that there was at least one beneficiary.
State law requires counties to advertise the liens in a local newspaper of “general circulation.”
Therefore, Wake County paid the The News & Observer $44,800 to print 30 pages of tiny type.
“I tried to talk them down, but they wouldn’t budge,” Kinrade said of the newspaper’s advertising department.
Sorry folks. We need the money.