URBANA — Champaign County property tax bills will be hitting the mail nearly three weeks late this year.
County officials said they had been missing a piece of information from the state Department of Revenue that's necessary to complete their work on 2018 tax bills payable this year.
The tentative mailing date for tax bills is now May 20, according to the Champaign County clerk's office.
In most Illinois counties, tax bills mailed after May 1 are considered to be late.
County officials blamed the delay in tax bills on a delay by the state Department of Revenue in issuing a final county multiplier, which is needed for the calculations done by the county clerk's office on tax rates.
The state issued the county a multiplier of "1" Thursday, saying the final multiplier was the same as the tentative one the county was issued back in August. The county was being notified by mail, according to Department of Revenue spokesman Terry Horstman.
The county multiplier is determined by the state each year to assure that equalized assessed values of properties are in line with 33.3 percent of fair market value.
Assessments in Champaign County are at 33.27 percent of market value, based on sales of properties in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the Department of Revenue.
The first installment on property taxes will be due 30 days after the mailing date for the bills, with the second installment tentatively due on Sept. 3, county officials said.
The state Department of Revenue didn't respond to questions about whether it was behind on providing multipliers to counties. But Champaign County Supervisor of Assessments Paula Bates said she provided assessment information to the state on time in February.
Taxpayers may not be in a big hurry to get their property tax bills, but local taxing districts are waiting to find out how much money they'll have available for their upcoming budget years.
Without that information, the village of Mahomet is in something of a bind trying to complete a budget for a new fiscal year starting May 1.
Typically the village would have had its property tax information from the clerk's office by early April, according to village Administrator Patrick Brown.
Brown also said he would typically have a complete budget draft ready to present to the village board by the last week of this month. But as of now, he doesn't know how much property tax money the village can count on.
"Right now, the number for real estate taxes means cutting or keeping at least three capital improvement projects," Brown said.
Mahomet finance director Robert Kouzmanoff said Wednesday he hadn't been able to get a straight answer from the county clerk's office about the delay.
"It seems like every time I call the county clerk's office, I get a different answer about what the holdup is," he said.
County clerks in Piatt and Douglas counties said the state has already provided the multipliers for their counties.
Douglas County Clerk Judi Pollock said it took the state longer than usual to supply that information this year, and Douglas County tax bills will probably be mailed a bit after May 1.
Vermilion County was still waiting on the state for its multiplier as of Wednesday, so tax bills in that county will also likely be mailed a bit late this year, according to County Clerk Cathy Jenkins.
"When you're at the mercy of the state, you do the best you can," she said.
Meanwhile, Brown said Mahomet will be spending money to operate in a new budget year come May 1 "on an assumption, basically," and he'd rather have the actual numbers.
"We've always presented a preliminary (budget) draft at the end of April for at least the last 10 years without missing a beat," he said.