"We have had quite a bit of inquiry if we are selling tax liens, but we are not," Frederick said.
"That (selling the liens for collection) probably makes more sense for a county like Cuyahoga where there may be a preponderance of delinquencies. We just don't have that much of a problem," Frederick said.
"Because of the pay plans we have and the enforcement we have had, we just don't have that problem."
The total charged in 1997 for 1996 taxes was $60,332,169. As of Aug. 1 a total of $5.5 million, or 6 percent, was still owed.
"However, since Aug. 1 we have now collected $1,975,263.87" of the amount owed, Frederick said.
More than 72,000 real property tax bills covering $50 million in first-half year taxes for 1997 are set to go out Jan. 20, and payment is due by Feb. 12, Frederick said. Second half-year bills will go out in June. There is a 10 percent penalty for late payment.
One thing that helps keep the delinquency rate down are payment plans offered by the treasurer's office for people unable to make full tax payments.
And as of last year, a growing number of taxpayers are saying "charge it" and putting their tax bills on plastic. The amount paid by credit card doubled between 1994 and 1996, Frederick said. A total of $1.64 million has been paid by credit card so far in 1997, compared to just under $650,000 in 1994.
"We certainly don't have any large delinquencies. I think we're seeing more individuals going delinquent. But while we have more first-time delinquencies, the overall dollar amount is down," Frederick said.
Real property taxes must be owed for a whole year before the due bill is certified as delinquent, and then the foreclosure process can take another year. And any time along that process the owner can pay the property tax.
One problem area for tax collections continues to be mobile homes, or manufactured home units. Portage County has the highest number out of 88 counties in the state, with 5,900 units on the tax rolls.
Nearly a quarter of the $2.386 million billed to mobile home owners was delinquent as of Dec. 1.
"For the first time, we have resorted to garnishing of wages for these habitual delinquencies. I'm sorry to say it, but we have resorted to that," Frederick said.