With some county departments, it can be difficult to know if the department is doing its job well.

However, with the Guilford County Tax Department, there’s one metric that pretty much says it all: the property tax collection rate.

During a recent budget report from the Guilford County Budget Department to the Board of Commissioners, Assistant Budget Director Rusty Mau said that over the last two years the collection rate by the Tax Department has been “phenomenal.”

According to statistics from the Tax Department, the property tax collection rate in Guilford County for fiscal 2020-2021, was 99.46 percent.  For fiscal 2021-2022, the fiscal year that just closed out on June 30, the county had a property tax collection rate of 99.34 percent.

Assistant Guilford County Tax Director Jim Roland said this week that the department is indeed very pleased with the collection rates over the last two fiscal years given the pandemic and the financial challenges that many people in the county have faced.

It really has been phenomenal,” Roland said. “That’s the perfect word for it, given the pandemic and other challenges.  It’s really been crazy.”

When asked why payment rates have been so high in the pandemic – when a lot of people lost their jobs – Roland said, “We’ve kicked that question around.”

He said one thing that’s been a real success for collection efforts is a program that beefed up the threat of foreclosures about seven years ago.  He said that, before that program was established – with which Chief Deputy Guilford County Attorney Matt Mason played a major role – the county’s foreclosure threats rarely had much teeth because there wasn’t a focus on carrying them through. Now people know they very well might lose their homes if they don’t pay.

Roland also said he feels his department has done an excellent job of working with county property owners to discuss payment plans and of working with people in other ways to help see that their tax bill is paid.

He added that the federal aid to people and businesses over the last two years was no doubt a big help for the collection rates.

“It seems to be that, when people got relief funds, the government was one of the first creditors they paid,” Roland said.

The Tax Department consistently has collection rates that are near the top of those in the state.  Roland said a state report later in September will show results for collection efforts across North Carolina for fiscal 2021-2022.  He said he feels confident that, when that does come out, Guilford County will be at least in the top 10 percent of the state’s 100 counties.