Commissioner looks to fix property transfer backlog, speed up bills

Published 6:16 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

As it stands, the property transfer process is running a bit slow in Prince Edward County. Basically, if you buy a piece of property, it’s usually still registered in the former owner’s name 14 months later. Newly elected Commissioner of the Revenue Crystal Hensley informed supervisors of that during their Tuesday, Jan. 9 meeting, while also saying she’ll get it cleaned up. 

Hensley, who won in November’s election, told supervisors she and her staff are working on fixing the problems. 

“I think currently we’re sitting about 14 months behind on real estate (transfers),” Hensley said. “We’re going to work really hard to get those records cleaned up and current, as well as assessing on the personal property, to get everything out in a timely manner.” 

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Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley added that supervisors have mentioned wanting to do things like possibly splitting tax payments so you pay half in December and half in June, as well as working on prorating bills. But none of that can happen until things like the property transfers get sorted out. 

“Those are goals moving forward, but obviously we’ve got to get our house in order first,” Stanley said. “I’m hopeful she’s got a path to get us straightened out this year, get the bills out on time this year and get some of our real estate records cleaned up.” 

Property transfer, more tax bills

That last part, delayed tax bills, had been a complaint residents raised of the commissioner’s office over the last two years especially. Section 58.1-3912 of the Virginia Code only says that a city or county treasurer has to mail the tax bills “not later than 14 days prior to the due date”. Since taxes are due on Dec. 5 in Prince Edward County, no rules were broken by the previous delays. But residents understandably would like to see the bills go out earlier, so they a) know how much they owe and b) have more time to come up with a payment plan. That’s another thing Hensley wants to fix. 

“Our goal this year is to get bills out on time,” Hensley told supervisors. “We’re bringing some new technologies to the office that I believe will help.” 

She mentioned using dual monitors as an example, arguing that it helps increase productivity. “It’s the little things that make a big difference,” Hensley added. “We’re just toying around with new ideas, better ways to be more efficient and more productive in the office, to serve the taxpayers in the county.”