The Shelby County Trustee's office has chosen Thomson Reuters Aumentum software to automate property tax billing and collection administration.
Shelby County, Tennessee, which surrounds Memphis, collects more than $750 million in property tax revenue annually, representing 60% of the County's net revenue.
In 2013, the Shelby County Trustee and the City of Memphis agreed to a partnership in which the County will collect current and delinquent property taxes for the municipality. The Trustee also has agreements to provide property tax administrative support for Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland, and Millington municipalities.
Debra Gates, Deputy Treasurer for Shelby County, said that consolidating administrative functions — specifically the selection of a single tax automation system rather than two independent systems — the Trustee and City of Memphis have saved $2.5 million.
By combining administrative tax functions, the County is expected to collect a third more tax revenue (over $1 billion), mail more than 1 million tax bills per year, and log an estimated 230,000 telephone inquiries from taxpayers. "The cost savings are dramatic when you add the efficiency gains that the software offers — such as the ability to make a single assessment in a common system from one office at one time and issue one bill associated with that change," said Gates.
Thomson Reuters Aumentum software was selected because it offers a stable, flexible, and configurable platform. "For taxpayers, there is greater convenience," said Tina Walker, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the Shelby County Trustee. "For example, instead of completing a separate application for property tax relief with the county and the city, a taxpayer will only complete it in one place and at one time."
Shelby County's current property tax system had become increasingly difficult, risky, and expensive to maintain.
It was once common for governments to write their own software systems and to independently maintain that software in perpetuity. With rising labor costs and a shrinking pool of programmers for aging technology platforms, however, the cost to independently maintain these systems has risen dramatically. Additionally, staying current with new technologies requires significant system improvements. For example, to upgrade to a newer version of SQL Server requires changing 900 stored procedures within Shelby County's existing tax system.
"There is a real fear of breaking something in the system," said Gates.
Explaining the selection of Thomson Reuters, Gates said, "We believe this is not merely just a vendor-client relationship, but rather a partnership committed to the County's success."
"Shelby County and the City of Memphis are to be commended for bringing their taxpayers more efficient, effective and convenient property tax technology," said Tom Walsh, managing director for Thomson Reuters.
More than 1,100 jurisdictions in the United States use Thomson Reuters Aumentum software to manage property tax, valuation, land recordation, land management, and e-services for governments' operations.