Commissioner Mielke again tardy on property taxes

This time, he forgot to pay his bill

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: May 3, 2012, 8:11 PM

 

Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke said Thursday he forgot to pay his first-half property taxes, which were due April 30.

“I can’t believe it,” said Mielke, after a reporter called him to ask why he hasn’t paid.

“I see I forgot my grandson’s birthday, too,” Mielke said.

In 2010, Mielke was late paying his second-half property taxes. That time, it was a budgeting issue. He’d been remodeling his Battle Ground-area home, and his other bills carried higher interest rates than his property tax bill. So he postponed payment.

This time, he said, he simply forgot.

“I would love to blame someone,” he said with a laugh.

Mielke, 70, is up for re-election this year. The Republican faces two challengers, Democrats Joe Tanner and Ron Barca. Both men paid their property taxes on time, according to county records.

Also paying on time? Mielke’s fellow commissioners, Republican Marc Boldt and Democrat Steve Stuart.

The six members of the Vancouver City Council who own property paid their property taxes on time (Mayor Tim Leavitt rents his condominium).

Clark County Treasurer Doug Lasher — yes, he paid his taxes on time, too — said last year that 97.4 percent of property owners paid their taxes. More than 50 percent of owners let their mortgage companies handle the payments; approximately 90 percent of people who submit payments do so on time.

But people do forget to pay, Lasher said.

The county, which collects taxes on behalf of all the taxing districts, sends out a press release to remind people when taxes are due.

The Columbian had a front-page story on April 22, and The Reflector ran a story on April 18.

The county also lets people sign up to use an authorized third-party vendor to pay property taxes by electronic debit from their checking account with no fee.

Mielke said he won’t be in a rush to pay his bill. Since 1 percent interest has already been applied, he said he’ll just be sure to pay before May 30, when the interest increases to 5 percent.

He said he’s looking forward to paying extra to the county, and joked that if everybody paid their property taxes late, maybe the county could afford to pay off the Clark County Events Center.

Not quite. The county owes $16.7 million on the center, said Jim Dickman, the county’s budget director, who paid his taxes on time. The treasurer’s office mailed 166,238 bills, so if everyone was late and paid, for example, $35 in interest, that would equal $5.8 million.

Lasher said most people who forget follow Mielke’s reasoning and wait 30 days.

Mielke’s total property tax bill for 2012 is $3,790. His first-half payment will be $1,896, plus $37.90 in interest. The interest goes into the county general fund, Lasher said.

“And then (Mielke) gets to spend it,” he added.

Commissioners currently earn $102,228 a year.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.