With the Christmas and New Year's holidays coming on a Saturday this year, many government offices will be closed on the previous Friday.
Even though most Callaway County offices will be closed on Dec. 31, county residents still will be able to pay their taxes in the collector's office on the last day of the year.
Pam J. Oestreich, Callaway County collector, said her office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 to accommodate Callaway County residents and property owners who wait until the last day of the year to pay their real estate and personal property taxes.
Oestreich said the Callaway County assessor's office also will be open during the same hours on New Year's Eve. The collector and assessor offices are the only two offices in Callaway County Courthouse that will be open on that day.
"If there is any change on any personal or real estate tax bills, it must go through the assessor's office before it can be paid. That is why the assessor's office also will be open," Oestreich said.
A spokesman for the assessor's office said only a skeleton crew will be in the assessor office on Dec. 31, and the office will be open as usual Monday, Jan. 3. Assessor office employees who work on Dec. 31 will take compensatory time off at a later date.
Oestreich said another alternative for people paying their taxes on the last day of the year is to mail an envelope with the tax bill and a check that must be postmarked by the United States Postal Service on or before Dec. 31 to avoid interest and penalties.
A Collector's Office drop box also will be available on the north side of the courthouse. Payments will be gathered from the collector's office drop box at midnight on Dec. 31. Any payment dropped in the collector's office drop box after midnight will be returned for penalty and interest, Oestreich said.
Real estate taxes and personal property tax payments may be included on one check and mailed in one envelope, she said.
Oestreich said taxpayers should check their personal property tax bills for any errors. If an error is found on the bill, contact the assessor's office in person or call (573) 642-0766 to make any corrections, she said.
Oestreich noted that under Missouri law taxes must be paid by midnight on Dec. 31 or postmarked by the United States Postal Service on or before Dec. 31 to avoid interest and penalties.
The post office will close at noon on Dec. 24, and all day Dec. 25, Dec. 31, and Jan. 1. Any letters dropped into the mailboxes located inside and just outside the Fulton post office before 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 will be postmarked on Dec. 31.
Any county tax payments dropped into any U.S. Postal Service mailboxes after 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 will be postmarked in January.
"Under Missouri law, we are required to return those payments for penalty and interest," Oestreich said.
Missouri law requires county taxes to be paid before the end of the year to escape penalties. But assessor's offices are not required by law to remain open on the last day of the year.
"Under the law we could close on Dec. 31, but we are not going to do it because I believe there would be a lot of irate Callaway County taxpayers," Oestreich said.
All county offices, including the collector and assessor offices will be closed Friday, Dec. 24, to observe the Christmas holiday. Exceptions include essential services such as the Callaway County Sheriff's Department.
Bill Johnson, Fulton director of administration, said most city offices will be closed on Dec. 24, to observe Christmas and on Dec. 31, to observe New Year's. Exceptions will be fire, police and power plant departments.
Johnson added that Fulton water and sewer department workmen will work part of the day on those holidays to check well pumps and sewer lift stations. They also will perform certain tests and take samples that are required 365 days a year.
Johnson said Fulton residents whose normal garbage pickup is Friday will have their garbage picked up on the following Monday.