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Computer glitch leads to tax bill error in Northampton

The notices, known as demand bills, are typically sent out near the end of the fiscal year asking property owners who have not paid their taxes to do so before the start of the next fiscal year, which is July 1.

Many property owners received the bill in error and were already paid up, said Deborah Dunphy, assistant collector.

“None of us know what happened,” Dunphy said.

The city recently moved its financial data to a web-based “cloud” system. The city’s Management Information Systems Department is working to solve the problem, and new demand bills will be issued next week to some 800 property owners with unpaid balances.

Dunphy said many property owners have contacted the tax collector’s office since receiving the bill. Once the office confirms that they are paid in full, the owners can throw the bills away, Dunphy said.

“Some really do owe and some don’t,” she said.

Meantime, property tax bills for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 are expected to be mailed in early July. Those bills are due Aug. 1.

The city has moved its email and much of its financial, human resources and payroll data to the cloud. Such systems are intended to be a more secure way to store data and eliminate the cost of staffing and maintaining in-house computer servers.

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