Where does your money go?

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By Gayle Deaton

Sooner or later, you have to pay your property taxes.

If you don't, you face penalties and having a lien put against your property.

But what exactly do you get in return for your money?

"It's the best bang for your buck when it comes to county property taxes," said County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger. "It's a great value for people who reside in Shelby County."

This year's county property tax rate is .11 per $100 of assessed value. That means that if you're home is assessed as having a value of $100,000, you pay the county $110.00.

Rothenburger said that the average homeowner receives a lot of county services for their $110.

They get road maintenance and snow removal as well as services such as law enforcement and access to 24-hour emergency medical services. County residents also receive emergency management services that would help in the event of a natural disaster or homeland security threat, clean community services, the animal shelter for animal control and the Shelby County Detention Center.

Rothenburger said counties have the official constitutional responsibility of providing incarceration services so it is a necessity.

Your property taxes also help fund the county school system. This year's tax rate for the school district is .6370 per $100 of assessed value which is a bit higher than neighboring counties Henry with a rate of .556, Eminence Independent with a rate of .522, Spencer County with a rate of .522, and Trimble County with a rate of .54. However, Oldham County is a bit higher than Shelby when you combine its school building tax of .224 and a general school tax of .445 for a total of .669.

Sheriff's Office employees said Thursday that occasionally people without children ask why they have to pay the school tax.

Rothenburger said he's heard similar complaints and likens it to the same reason you'd pay the fire district tax even though your home may never catch on fire.

It's another service that is essential to the community, he said.

The same holds true for the library tax set at .031 per $100 of assessed value, the health department tax set at .0375, the landfill set at .0350, and extension services set at .0187.

The county Extension service is also a taxing district with a rate of .0187 per hundred.

A new tax was added to this year's bill called "conservation" and the rate is .01 per $100 of assessed value. That tax will generate funds for the Shelby County Conservation District which educates people about conserving soil, water and other natural resources.

County residents pay a special fire district tax for fire services depending on where they live. If you live in Bagdad, your rate is .09 per $100 of assessed value but if you live in Waddy, it's .07.

If you live in Simpsonville, Pleasureville, or Shelbyville, you'll pay an additional tax because you have access to those city's services as well as the county services.

For example, Mayor Tom Hardesty said Shelbyville's services include 24-hour police protection with 23 officers, 24-hour fire protection with 18 firefighters, a public works department that keeps buildings, and streets maintained, and handles snow removal, leaf pickup, and code enforcement that deals with building inspections.

"With us, you pay one rate," Hardesty said. "We don't have special district taxes. I feel we try to get the most bang for the buck. I think our chief duty to the taxpayers is to spend their money wisely. We're the guardians of that, and citizens have entrust us to spend it on services they want and need."

Shelbyville residents pay a rate of .275per $100 of assessed value.

By Thursday, 80 percent of Shelby County residents had already paid their property taxes this year. Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Vance Simmons who works with the property tax collection said that it is unusual to have so many people pay this early in the process. Residents have through Dec. 31 to pay the face value of their tax bills without facing a penalty.

Starting Jan. 1, 2008, late taxpayers will be charged a five percent penalty and those opting to pay after Jan. 31 will face a 21 percent penalty.

Those who fail to pay after that will find their names printed in the Sentinel-News as delinquent and their tax bills sold at the sheriffs sale usually held the first Monday in April.

If your tax bill is sold, you can then be charged interest and penalties.

In addition, companies and individual investors can charge late fees as well as filing and release fees.

All these fees become a tax lien on your property and it's a first lien which means it must be paid before your property can be sold or refinanced.

Under state law, anyone -- a company or an individual -- can buy delinquent tax bills. In addition to charging charge late fees, 12-percent interest, and "reasonable attorneys fees," if they aren't repaid within one year, they can file a lawsuit and have the property sold at a master commissioner's auction to collect the money owed them.

For more information about your property taxes or due dates, visit www.shelbycountykentucky.com.