Fulton residents to pay more taxes due to mistake by county clerk

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FULTON – Homeowners in Fulton will pay extra taxes this year due to accounting mistakes made by a Callaway County clerk over the course of the summer.

County Clerk Denise Hubbard overstated the amount for new construction by $4.3 million on the report submitted to the state auditor.

Hubbard originally distributed the information in July to the county commission, the city of Fulton and Fulton Public Schools. 

“We all questioned that it was wrong, and there was a second set of revisions submitted. It didn’t look exactly right either,” said Callaway County Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer.

Kritzer said a meeting was called in August to discuss the possible discrepancy, but Hubbard did not attend. The city of Fulton called an emergency meeting Tuesday morning, during which Hubbard admitted to the mistake. 

Because the city of Fulton was overstated in its assessed valuation by over $4 million, the tax levy increased as a result.

“It’s about $27,500 in additional property tax revenue. To put it in even better perspective, for a citizen who owns a house that has a market value of $100,000, there would be an additional $4.46 due this year,” Fulton Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Holschlag said.

She said the city recognized the problem immediately and tried many times to fix it, but the information sent to the state auditor has to come from the county level. 

The state auditor’s office gave the city of Fulton a choice in correcting the error. Either the city could re-certify the tax rate at the correct level, or let it stand for this year and lower next year’s tax rate to make the two years balance out.

Fulton city council made the decision at Tuesday’s meeting to keep the rate in effect for this year.

“We are so late in the game to try and correct the problem because the tax bills are already online for Callaway County. About 10,000 bills have already been submitted to banks. It was going to be very costly to try and correct the problem this late,” Kritzer said.

He said the error only affects those who own property within city limits, but they will see a correction next year when the tax levy is lowered.