Property taxes late; California county has to borrow

For the first time since the mid-1990s, Merced County has borrowed money to deal with soaring property tax delinquency rates.

In yet another sign that fallout from the foreclosure crisis is still far from over, about one in 12 Merced County landowners failed to pay tax bills this fiscal year.

That means about $20.4 million in property taxes — or about 8.3 percent of what the county billed -- are now past due.

As a result, the county has had to borrow about $5 million to make payments to school districts, cities and other agencies to which it hands down property tax revenue, according to the county auditor's office.

"I've never seen a situation like this -- a situation with so many delinquencies," said county treasurer-tax collector Karen Adams. "No one here has. We're trying to ease through it as best we can, but there's no question that we're in trouble."

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