Burnet Co. waives fees for late property tax payments due to ice storm

The ice storm that hit Central Texas early February happened right on the property tax deadline, causing some residents in Burnet County to incur late fees when outgoing mail was brought to a standstill. 

Spicewood resident Jody Spillman wanted to get her payment in before the storm hit.

"I made sure and had a check made out for two different properties and took them down to the drop box at Spicewood Post Office," said Spillman.

That was January 30, the day before property taxes were due. Then she received an unpleasant surprise in the mail.

"I thought it was just the tax receipt," said Spillman. "I'm so glad that I opened that because when I posted (online) asking if other people had that happen when they went to look at theirs, they had gotten the penalty too, and weren't even aware of it." 

The winter storm, later named Winter Storm Mara, hit Central Texas Jan. 31 through Feb. 2., causing county offices to close and bringing mail delivery to a standstill. 

Spillman's payment didn’t end up being postmarked until Feb. 3, four days after she dropped it off.

"They told me I had to mail all of these different places and asked to appeal the fees," she said.

However, on Feb. 28, roughly a month after the storm, county commissioners unanimously agreed to waive penalties and interest or refund residents who have already paid the additional charges.

"I put this on the agenda because we obviously got a lot of requests," said County Judge James Oakley at Tuesday morning's meeting.

The exemption applies to residents whose payments were dropped off by Feb. 3 or postmarked by Feb. 7.

However, the exemption only applies to the county’s portion of the late fees. That means residents charged penalties and interest will have to reach out to each individual taxing entity that has jurisdiction over their property and appeal directly.

FOX 7 reached out to the City of Burnet and Burnet CISD, two of the county's taxing entities.

A spokesperson for the City of Burnet said they are not considering waiving charges.

Superintendent of Schools for Burnet CISD, Keith McBurnett, said in a statement: "As has been the practice in the past, the administration and Board of Trustees reviews all requests for waiving penalties and interest associated with late payment of property taxes on a case-by-case basis. The Board of Trustees is scheduled to consider all requests at the March 27 Board Meeting."

Both Williamson County and Travis County had already enacted a grace period.

A spokesperson for Williamson County told FOX 7, "payments received or postmarked on or after Monday, Feb. 6 have incurred penalties and interest."  

A spokesperson for Travis County said, "when the determination was made to reopen the county office on Feb. 3, 2023, Feb. 3 became the final day to pay without penalties and interest, and the new delinquency date was established as Feb. 4, 2023."