Case Study: WALZ Nominated for National Award for Helping County Tax Collector Save Thousands & Boost Efficiency
When faced with a record-breaking number of Certified Mail notices in 2017, the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office (SDTTC or “the County”) turned to WALZ to help streamline processes and save money.
As part of an overhaul of the SDTTC’s workflow, the department implemented WALZ Certified Mail Automation and realized an immediate savings of $3,614 while slashing the time spent per mail piece by nearly 95 percent and saving an estimated 98 hours of labor.
In the process, WALZ was identified as a key provider of time- and money-saving technology in a nomination for a National Association of Counties 2018 Achievement Award.
The case illustrates the power of Certified Mail Automation across a range of benefits, from saving money to avoiding potential manual-processing errors to freeing up staff.
The Challenge: Record-High Certified Mail Volume
Under state law, the County is required to send thousands of notifications every year to parties that may have an interest in a parcel—including current owners—alerting them that the parcel in question may be sold if property taxes remain unpaid.
The notifications must be sent by Certified Mail within rigid timelines, and in 2017, the County needed to send 7,228 notices—up from the previous year’s total of 2,209. That’s a volume increase of 227 percent, and a record number of notifications for the department.
The previous manual process required County staff to create mailing sheets for the U.S. Postal Service, create and print twin copies of thousands of labels, and then manually affix them to the Return Receipt cards and outgoing envelopes. Then, staff members would assemble and manually fold the printed notifications into the envelopes.
Under those conditions, the County estimated it would have taken three weeks to send that many notices. By the SDTTC’s own reckoning, this immense undertaking “would also require the use of numerous additional department staff not assigned to tax sales, thus impacting other programs.”
It was clear that something needed to be done to make this urgent workload manageable.
The Solution: CertifiedPro.net
What was a daunting mountain of manual paperwork became a manageable automated process with the targeted application of WALZ Certified Mail Automation.
The County chose CertifiedPro.net as its digital Certified Mail platform, providing a wealth of new features and capabilities to its team, including:
- Data importing in batches of up to 1,000
- Advanced electronic tracking
- Email notifications of delivery and Certified Mail signature availability
- “Anywhere, anytime” access to Certified Mail dashboard
With CertifiedPro.net, after printing its notices, “All that was required to mail the notices was to put the cover sheet on top, fold them in half, and insert them into the special Return Receipt Electronic envelopes purchased from WALZ.”
Implementing CertifiedPro.net required the purchase of WALZ Certified Mailer forms and envelopes, but crucially, the County noted: “The cost of an envelope was $0.50 less than purchasing a ‘Green Card’ Return Receipt. It also eliminated the need to print labels and request additional staff to assist with the process, thus freeing up resources that might have been tied up for weeks.”
The Result: Huge Savings—and a National Award Nomination
Along with steps taken by the County to streamline and digitize its data-gathering process, WALZ Certified Mail Automation played a key role in the new system, which was dubbed the “Online Electronic Tax Sale Notification Program.”
Some of the benefits were not easily quantifiable, such as the potential mistakes that were avoided using CertifiedPro.net instead of manual processing. Other benefits included the automated creation of mailing reports and intensive tracking of tax-sale notices that wasn’t possible before.
But it was the staggering time and money savings that prompted the County to nominate this new notification system—including WALZ solutions—for an Achievement Award with the National Association of Counties.
During the previous year’s process, the County spent an estimated 52 seconds per mail piece across 2,209 notices. Using WALZ Automation, staff whittled that number down to an astounding three seconds per mail piece, preparing 7,228 notices in just six hours. In the SDTTC’s own words: “The new, electronic process saved hundreds of hours of time and (resulted in) a cost savings of $3,614.”
The County also described the unexpected benefits of freeing up its staff: “The tremendous time savings found in the process allowed the SDTTC additional time to research any returned mail for better addresses for the parties of interest, and provide an even greater level of customer service in the process.”
“This is very important given the importance of a property possibly being sold in the tax sale, and assisted the SDTTC with our goal to give every opportunity to the parties of interest a chance to redeem the property in question and prevent it from going to tax sale.”
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