Tax notice error causes homeowners to fear eviction

Some Jefferson County homeowners got some unexpected and rather alarming news in the mail this week. People who paid their property taxes were notified about a lien on their property.

The county manager says it was a mistake. He's trying to find out whether it was a human or computer error to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, the{}men sitting{}at the front of the commission chamber weren't just Jefferson County commissioners. They were also homeowners with questions.

"Like you commissioner,{}I got a notice that there was a tax lien on my house It was clearly an error," said Commissioner George Bowman.

"We need to fix this and put something in place so it doesn't happen again," said Commissioner Joe Knight.

Three of the commissioners and even several of their assistants were among an estimated three to four hundred Jefferson County homeowners who opened their mailboxes to find notice of a lien on their property for failing to pay property taxes.

"We're still investigating to see exactly what happened. Hopefully by the end of the week, I'll know exactly what happened," said Tony Petelos, Jefferson County manager.

The Tax Collector's Office recently changed computer systems and went from postcard property tax notices to paper. It ran three tests, which seemed to work.

But Friday, an estimated 75 homeowners showed up in the office with lien notices.

"If this is the first notice from the office about you being delinquent, it's probably an error. By law,we are require to send out many delinquent notices, so we would've probably contacted you four or five times by now," said John DeLucia, director of tax collections.

DeLucia{}says not to fear eviction, homeowners will not be held responsible for the error.

"This will not affect your credit report. This was a coding error," he said.

Corrected notices are expected to be sent out soon.