Assessor's office faces returned mail problem<BR>

The U.S.

Postal Service has returned at least 1,500 pieces of mail to the Mohave County Assessor's Office because many property owners have not updated their addresses.

The postal service sent another 4,000 pieces of mail to property owners who provided forwarding addresses, but some of them have been returned to the assessor's office as well.

The forwarding service cost the assessor's office 50 cents per piece, or $2,000, assessor's officials said.

Staff at the assessor's office have filled one box with photocopies of the forwarded mail and another box stuffed with mail returned to their office.

They mailed cards to owners to each of the estimated 250,000 parcels March 1 to notify them of the value of their property.

The cards also designate the legal class of the land, such as vacant, commercial or residential, and inform the owners that they have until May 1 to appeal the land values.

The value of the land, as determined by the assessor's office, is used for determining what the owners will pay in property taxes.

"These people who are not getting their notices are not getting their tax bills because the same address is used for both," said Cindy Hulse, office specialist in the assessor's office.

Hulse said the assessor's office mails the cards, and later property tax bills, to the last known address in the computer system.

Returned mail states that the intended recipients closed a post office box, that the address was wrong and "all of the various reasons that they don't receive them," Assessor Beverly Payne said.

She added property owners need to furnish updated addresses to the assessor's office, which mails property tax bills in September.

When forwarded addresses are provided, the postal service will deliver the cards and other mail there from the assessor's office to up to a year after the property owners move, said Terry Misenhimer, a supervisor at the Kingman Post Office.

For up to six months after the year ends, the postal service will return the cards to the assessor's office while also notifying the office of the new addresses, he said.

"It is the assessor's responsibility to get that new address put into the system," he said.

"It is something we have to deal with all the time."

Misenhimer said, "We are inundated with a lot (of mail) being returned because of the wrong addresses (and) because forwarding orders were expired."

Meanwhile, staff at the assessor's office are trying to find other mailing addresses by determining whether they own other property in the county.

Office Clerk Darlene Mock said she uses the phone book and calls directory assistance to track down the property owners.

Mock said she was found the correct addresses for at least 500 cards in 1999.

She also spent eight hours a workday for three months in 1999 trying to find correct addresses, Hulse said.

The assessor's office mails the cards to property owners throughout the county, elsewhere in Arizona and other states and all over the world.

"We get better response from foreigners than people in the States," Mock said.

She said she does not know why.

Hulse estimated that the assessor's office mailed cards to 3,000 owners in foreign countries in 1999.

Assessor Payne is urging property owners to notify her office of the updated addresses by calling 753-0703.