BELTON — Bell County residents paid about $30 million in property taxes in November, according to a quarterly report from the Bell County treasurer. The annual payment represents the majority of property taxes paid in Bell County for the year.

County Auditor Donna Eakin said even though property taxes aren’t late in Texas until after Feb. 1, Bell County’s incentive structure encourages property owners to pay early.

“We offer a 3 percent discount if a payment is posted before Oct. 31,” Eakin said. “Most homeowners and mortgage companies are trying to get that discount, so it takes a little while for those payments to be processed, which is why they show up in November.”

Bell County offers diminishing discounts — 2 percent in November and 1 percent in December.

County Treasurer Charles Jones said the property tax payments raised the county’s fund balance to $54 million. Bell County’s sales tax revenue is still climbing, he said.

“Our October sales tax payment was up $27,000 from October 2012,” Jones said. “December’s payment should be up as well.”

Based on the rate of growth seen in Bell County’s sales tax payments, it’s a safe bet that the check Bell County receives for the holiday shopping season will be more than $1.6 million.

If so, it would be the largest sales tax payment the county has seen and will mark a sharp increase in retail spending.

Although the county’s December sales tax payments surpassed $1 million in the early 2000s, it wasn’t until 2011 the amount the county received hit $1.5 million.

Jones commented on the continually increasing number of people using their credit and debit cards to pay county fees. The county began accepting credit and debit cards in 2006 and began offering online payment options in 2012. He said while it appears the number of people using those cards to pay county fees and fines dropped from 1,512 in October 2012 to 1,432 in October 2013, the increase in Web payments offsets that drop.

“Web payments increased from 259 in October 2012 to 459 in October 2013,” Jones said.

“For a lot of reasons — I-35, location, the lakes — we’re a good strong county for revenue.”

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