Tarrant County pays its bills.
That’s the message the county commissioners court was trying to send Tuesday, when it unanimously approved a $7 million transfer of funds from its general budget to Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright, who has a lot of outstanding debts to pay.
Wright’s office learned this summer that it is responsible for doling out $12 million in refunds on property tax payments to thousands of local homeowners and businesses.
That’s not a bad thing. Putting money back in the hands of taxpayers is hardly a crisis.
But Wright wasn’t expecting quite this volume of refunds so late in the year — a problem he blames on a computer software glitch at the Tarrant Appraisal District.
Chief Appraiser Jeff Law says otherwise. Exactly what factors are to blame remain mystery.
The large number of refunds coinciding with the end of the tax year when revenue is drying up has put the county at risk of failing to send refund checks on time.
Now that could become a crisis since the county owes taxpayers interest if it fails to pay taxpayers within 60 days of getting a certified roll.
According to Wright, that won’t happen. To date, no refunds have been held up as a result of this problem.
The transfer of funds, he told the commissioners Tuesday, will give his office the flexibility it needs to keep the refund process on track. However, the financial cushion will not speed up the ability of his office to process the remaining claims.
Still, the court of commissioners made the right call in agreeing to transfer the funds; its action will help ensure taxpayers are made whole quickly and efficiently.
Determining what caused the problem in the first place must now be the highest priority.
An audit has been pending for months and it’s time to get some answers.
For a variety of reasons, county leaders, not to mention taxpayers, need to have confidence in the tax numbers supplied by TAD.
With the funding issue now handled, county officials should turn their attention to finding the source of the problem and ensuring it won’t be repeated.