Tarrant County owes nearly $9 million to 5,000 taxpayers but can't pay them all right away, a county official said Tuesday.
"It's like a six-week cash-flow problem," said Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright.
On top of the $9 million, Wright said his office was already working to refund $3 million from earlier overcharges.
Wright said he's decided to withhold payments to cities, schools and the county hospital so he can repay property owners who were overcharged.
"The larger entities are going to take a hit," he said.
John Peter Smith Hospital will lose $1.1 million, the city of Fort Worth $1 million and the Fort Worth Independent School District $700,000.
Wright said the problem that led to the refunds isn't in his office, which collects the taxes, but in the separate Tarrant Appraisal District, which decides who pays how much.
The district has dealt with computer glitches since new software was installed two years ago and an update was installed several months ago, he said.
The appraisal district gives a monthly list of tax changes to Wright's office.
In June, the district submitted three different lists that ultimately led to the unusually high number of refunds, Wright said.
"I'm not going to sugar-coat it. It was a kick in the pants," he said.
Wright said problems with data from the appraisal office are ongoing but he expected to resolve the cash-flow issue by next month.
Tarrant County Chief Appraiser Jeff Law did not return a telephone call Tuesday seeking comment.
The problems are affecting taxpayers like Josh Paz, of Fort Worth.
Paz, a married father of four, said the county overcharged him $2,000 in property taxes.
"They owe me a refund," he said.
He said because of the mistake, his bank raised his monthly mortgage $400 to pay the taxes and future taxes based on the mistaken amount.
"It makes me very mad. It makes me very stressful," he said.
He said he can barely support his family even though he has a steady job working for the railroad.
To make ends meet, he said he is using credit cards.
Paz, a Mexican immigrant who became a U.S. citizen, said he is frustrated after spending months going to county offices trying to resolve the situation.
"They need to take responsibility," he said.
To find out if you're owed a refund, call the Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector at 817-884-1100.