Some taxpayers in Hood County are getting hit with late fees for tax bills they insist they never received and didn't know were coming.
Chiropractor Heather Wright owns a rental home outside Granbury.
"I've owned this property for many years and I've always paid my taxes in full,” she said.
Wright said she paid her property taxes this year, but then got a notice that she was late – and owed a penalty.
"At first it really surprised me because I thought, 'How did I pay this wrong?'" she said.
She finally figured it out.
For the first time, this year the county sent two tax bills.
One, for cities and schools, was sent by the Hood County Tax Appraiser.
The second came from the Hood County Tax Assessor-Collector, who just started collecting county taxes.
"They said they sent a second one,” Wright said. “I never received a second one."
It's hard to know how many property owners are in the same situation.
But Hood County Tax Assessor-Collector Teresa McCoy said the post office returned cartons of undeliverable mail -- bills that taxpayers never got but still owe.
She also acknowledged problems and delays in sending out bills. During a key time period, a family member died and many of her employees were out with the flu, she said. Taxpayers did not get penalized for any of her office's delays, she added.
But even if taxpayers never received the notices and never knew a second bill was supposed to arrive, they’re still responsible under state law for paying all their taxes and any late fees, McCoy said.
Wright doesn't think that's fair.
She called to complain.
"I said, ‘If you look at my history, I've always paid in full. I'm obviously not a negligent taxpayer.’ She was like, ‘I don't care, there's nothing I can do for you.’"
Hood County officials said they expect the collection process to go much smoother next year.
Amid all the issues, the assessor-collector has decided to let the appraiser go back to collecting all the taxes, so property owners will once again receive only one notice.
"I will definitely pay the taxes but I feel like they need to take the penalties off because I would have paid it in full if they had sent it to me,” Wright said.