WEST WARWICK — A new method for collecting tax bill payments in West Warwick is expected to simplify the process significantly, benefiting taxpayers and the town, alike, the town’s tax collector said this week.

Unlike in decades past, beginning next month taxpayers won’t be able to make tax bill payments at local banks. Instead, the town will be using a lockbox system, which will require taxpayers mailing checks to send those payments to an address in Boston. 

“With this, people’s checks are going to clear much faster, and we won’t have bins of mail waiting to be processed in-house,” tax collector Rosemarie Silva said Tuesday. 

The major goal in adopting the lockbox system, Silva added, is to improve efficiency in the collection of tax payments. 

“We’re trying to become more efficient in the way we do things in the town — we just want things to be better run,” she said. “The [town] council talks about being efficient, so hopefully this lockbox will help us become more efficient.”

Before, when residents sent their tax payments to the bank, it would typically take three or more weeks for those payments to be processed by hand. Silva said her office would hear often from residents who were concerned about how long it took for their checks to be cashed. 

“It was a challenge,” Silva said, noting that each quarter, thousands of payments would need to be processed. “It was a struggle to get those payments. I mean, just in July, we’d have about nine bins of mail.”

By mailing payments to the lockbox, however, taxpayers should see their checks cleared within a day, Silva said. The lockbox account is essentially a collection account, through which incoming payments are electronically processed and the information is quickly transmitted back to the town.

“The money will get to the town quicker,” Silva added, “and we won’t have phone calls from people who are upset because their check hasn’t been cashed yet.”

Residents do have other options for paying tax bills, as well.  

Silva said that, with this new lockbox system, she expects to see more residents visiting the tax collection counter in the town hall to make their payments. 

“We do anyway during quarterly taxes,” she said, “but it should be even more so now. They can’t pay at the banks, they’ll probably come here.”

Taxpayers can also sign up to have their tax payments automatically withdrawn from their bank accounts quarterly at no extra cost, or they can pay with their credit cards online for a fee of 3 percent. 

There’s also a dropbox where tax bill checks can be deposited in the parking lot behind the town hall. 

As for when residents can expect to receive their tax bills, motor vehicle, sewer and sewer assessment bills will be mailed out on time, the last week of June, with payments due July 15. 

Because a FY20 budget has yet to be approved by voters, however, real estate and tangible tax bills will be delayed by at least a month. If the revised budget is approved during the July 11 referendum, those bills will be mailed at the end of July, with payments due Aug. 15.

“But that’s all subject to the passing of the budget,” Silva said. 

For those who plan to mail their tax bill payments, checks can be made payable to “West Warwick Tax Collector,” and can be sent to “Town of West Warwick,” P.O. Box 981404, Boston, Mass., 02298-1404. 

Residents who prefer to hand-deliver their checks to the town hall can do so Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., except on holidays. 

kgravelle@ricentral.com

 

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