While Carroll's list of late taxpayers this year was nearly 45 percent longer than in 1990, the county's property tax delinquency rate isthe lowest of several surrounding counties.

The 1991 list -- which is comprised of taxpayers late on payments ranging from $15 to $15,000 -- included 492 properties when it first was published on May 31,a 45 percent increase over the 340 properties on the list a year ago.

"I can tell you, the list is not usually this long," said Karen Fisher, who prepares the county's tax bills.

The list was down to about 200 yesterday, and should be down to no more than 100 by tomorrow's 3:30 p.m. payment deadline, Fisher said.

"Most people make it in here before the tax sale," she said, noting this year's sale is 10a.m. Friday.

Carroll is grappling with its highest delinquency rate in years -- about 1 percent of the total 47,138 tax bills mailed for this year -- but surrounding counties routinely have a higher percentage of late payers.

In Baltimore County, for instance, 17,500 -- about 7.3 percent -- of the 240,000 tax bills this year were delinquent. More than 930 of the delinquent properties ended up being sold at the county's tax sale in May.

"This past year has been abnormally high," said Kurt Louderback, Baltimore County's revenue supervisor. "I think you can attribute a lot of that to the recession."

The story is much the same in Washington County, where about 4.4 percent of its 45,000 tax bills were delinquent this year. In Frederick County, where about 60,000 tax bills were mailed, nearly 1,140 -- about 2 percent -- were delinquent.

Carroll's most recent list of late taxpayers -- published Friday -- represented nearly $250,000 in tax revenue. While a quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money, the delinquency represents less than 1 percent of the $49.2 million in property tax revenues the county will collect before the end of the fiscal year on Sunday.

"The effect on the county is minimal," said countyFinance Director Eugene Curfman. "It may mean a loss in interest we could have earned from those late taxes, but, aside from that and a bigger workload on our tax office, there is no real effect on the operations of the county."

Some developers -- suffering through one ofthe weakest real estate markets to hit the county in 20 years -- were listed as delinquent in their tax payments.

As of yesterday, thedevelopers of Roberts Mill Run in Taneytown had not paid the $4,672.07 they owe the county. Carrolltowne Associates Limited Partnership -- an Altoona, Pa.-area developer -- had not paid the $14,319.56 it owed on a 3.9-acre tract near the Carrolltowne Mall in Eldersburg.

On Monday, Woodbine Contractors & Builders Inc. of Mount Airy paid the$6,554 it owed on several South Carroll properties.

The three developers could not be reached for comment.

Any property with taxes still due at 10 a.m. Friday will be sold. Once sold, the new buyer can foreclose on the property after waiting six months.

In previous years, only a fraction of the properties listed as delinquent at the beginning of June ended up being sold. Of the 340 listed last year, only 46 were sold, and only three of them ended up being foreclosed. In 1989, 26 of the 325 delinquent properties were sold, and only one of those wound up in foreclosure proceedings. And, in 1988, 50 of the 395 properties listed as delinquent were sold, with three foreclosures.

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