Outdated device sends county to BB&T on taxes
Posted: March 5, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Frederick County taxpayers may have noticed a change in where they’re being asked to send their tax payments this year.
The county treasurer’s Web page instructs residents to mail payments to a post office box in Merrifield — located in Fairfax County, more than 63 miles from Winchester. Mailing payments to the treasurer’s Winchester post office box is also an option.
The reason for the change is mechanical, according to longtime treasurer William Orndoff, who added that the switch is intended to save the county money.
According to Orndoff, the county’s $40,000 desktop remittance machine, which reads barcodes on tax payments and processes those payments, has outlived its useful life span. It can’t be replaced, and the only alternative devices are either too small for the county’s needs or too expensive.
The more expensive remittance machine costs about $100,000, with estimated annual maintenance fees of $12,000 to $15,000, Orndoff said.
To avoid spending that much money, the county reached an agreement with BB&T — a North Carolina-based bank that has a payment processing center in Northern Virginia — which will transport the tax payments from Merrifield to its center, process them, and return them to Frederick, Orndoff said.
The price for the service is comparable to what the county would have paid in maintenance fees on the $100,000 remittance machine, he said.
“We took the time to sit down with their people, we told them what we expected and reviewed their operation,” Orndoff said. “It’s solely from a cost-effective viewpoint to save tax dollars ... We always measure our cost savings and are constantly looking for better processes.”
The treasurer’s office tried out the service on a limited basis in December, and Orndoff said it was a success.
BB&T’s center also will send the county electronic tax payment records once a payment is processed to speed up the system. By using this method, treasurer’s office staff will be able to perform other tasks rather than opening envelopes containing tax payments.
Orndoff said his office has received about a half dozen questions about the Merrifield post office box.
Frederick County tax payments can be mailed to P.O. Box 7418, Merrifield 22116; or P.O. Box 220, Winchester 22604. Additional information on paying county taxes is available by contacting the treasurer’s office at 540-665-5607.
— Contact Matt Armstrong at email@example.com