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Tax payment information finally available online

By Anna Jauhola
In recent weeks, the public has once again been able to view tax statements and information on Kittson County’s website. It’s been a long road – from May 2021 to November 2023 – but the Tyler Technologies software is live.
However, patrons still do not have the option to pay taxes online, a feature many have missed. This is in process, but there is not an official start date for the portal.
In May 2021, the county commission approved using American Recovery Plan (ARP) dollars to purchase the Tyler tax software. The county has received over $1 million in ARP funds, which helped with many projects and should have covered the software conversion. The county’s initial contract payment was $239,550, and so far with all the patches and extras has amounted to over $400,000. The county has a data processing budget, which has covered the additional costs.
While many offices throughout the courthouse have been dealing with the Tyler conversion, Shirley Swenson, Kittson County chief financial officer, and April Klecker, CFO assistant and taxpayer services, have been mostly handling the tax portion.
“Tyler is throughout the whole United States with a tax system. They came into Minnesota and we were one of the first they implemented,” Swenson said. “Well, Minnesota is a very complex taxing calculation system.”
“Yes, we’re very different,” Klecker agreed.
Swenson added there were many unknowns when implementing the Tyler software, which has led to the need for several patches for current and new softwares to interface. Each time a patch is needed, Tyler Technologies has to create the patch and then implement it, which costs extra.
At the end of November, Tyler’s software for viewing tax information, called Property Access, went live at https://propertysearch.co. kittson.mn.us/search/commonsearch.aspx?mode=realprop.
“Our go-live date was October,” Swenson said. “Before that, it was June.”
Leading up to this point, several employees worked to input all the county’s data for the tax system first. The previous tax viewing system didn’t have the correct numbers because the system wasn’t updating, Swenson said.
“Then we were going to go into other tools, is what they call them,” Klecker said, adding the Property Access site for viewing tax statements and other information is a module outside the Tyler tax system – which cost additional funding.
Klecker worked with the assessor’s office to ensure all information was correct, and completed several tests of the Property Access site before it went live. The taxpayer services office and assessor’s office each use different appraisal software, so when they all sifted through dozens of pages of reports, they had to ensure information from Vanguard and Tyler matched.
“I went through a bunch of random parcel numbers and double checked everything was correct,” Klecker said. “Whenever I found an issue, I brought it to (Tyler) and they fixed it.”
For a short time, the county’s GIS website was down, but is now working again so landowners can find their parcel numbers if they need. However, Swenson and Klecker agreed the Property Access site to view tax statements is user friendly. For example, you can simply put in an asterisk (*) before your last name and that’ll bring up all properties with that last name on it. The directions are on the main page and are straightforward.
As for the payment portal for taxes, that’s still a work in progress.
“We are close,” Klecker said. “We have to do a patch. We are the first county in Minnesota to do the Tyler payment portal, so we are the guinea pig.”
A county in Georgia has gone live with their payment portal through Tyler, she added, so they’re getting problems and issues fixed before Kittson County goes live.
“They’re hoping to get this patch done and updated within a week or two, so they’re hoping before the end of January it should be able to go live,” Klecker said.
It’s been a frustrating journey for those trying to get the overall program up and running. In addition to the tax system, social services continues to work with InterTech, a company that is creating a patch so Tyler software can interface with the state’s Social Service Information System. Plus, the taxpayer services office still has the former tax software, Avenu, to make sure they have all the information for the new system in Vanguard.
Prior to Tyler, the county used the IFSPI governmental accounting system, which all 87 counties used and was built specifically for the counties, Swenson said. Through IFSPI, all accounting information interfaced from each department to financial services, but Tyler’s does not.
Although the Tyler system has been a struggle, Swenson said it has eliminated steps for entering billing information.
“We pull a bill in, we scan it, we code it and it’s all done in one step now instead of what would take me three steps before,” she said. “But just the facets of governmental accounting, I don’t feel like they are in this software.”
Despite all this, Swenson and Klecker are hopeful that in the end, the Tyler system will work well for the county.
While the payment portal remains inaccessible, the public is still encouraged to call the taxpayer services office with credit card payment or to mail a check.
The taxpayer services office number is 218-843-3432 and the mailing address is 410 5th St. S., Suite 212, Hallock, MN 56728.

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