SPARTA-No one certainly looks forward to it, but it is a rite of summer that Sparta residents have come to accept around this time each year n an increase in annual property taxes and late notification. But don't blame Lorraine Markey, who hears the underhanded ribbing each summer, but knows she is not to blame. Markey, the township tax collector, said residents should have received this year's tax bills in the mail by now following another prolonged passage of the state budget. She said the bills have gone out late for the past four years because of delays in Trenton. Acting Gov. Richard J. Cody signed this year's $27.9 billion budget on July 2, just hours after conclusion of a bitter fight between Senate and Assembly Democrats over the size of property tax rebate checks and the extent of new taxes required to support the spending plan. But Sparta, like all municipalities throughout the state, was forced to wait on the sidelines before sending notices to taxpayers. State law requires each tax bill to include the amount of state aid allocated to municipal, the county governments and the local school district to go toward property tax relief. "People are used to it," she said. "The notification actually went out a week earlier than last year. So it hasn't been that difficult." The bills were due Aug. 2, but will not accrue interest until Aug. 22. "It's not that people don't know they are due," said Markey. "It's just that they don't want to know." This year, the state appropriated $2,006,736 in municipal aid to Sparta, $8,637,018 to the township school district, and $1,893 to the county to offset local property taxes. A Sparta property owner based on an assessed value of $140,100 this year is expected to pay $3,812.73 in taxes. Of that, $666.88 goes to the county and open space programs, $2,426.54 go to the school district, and $717.31 is used for municipal expenses. Markey said the state allows a one-year delinquency period, before scheduling a tax sale, at which time she advertises the debtor, the property block number, and the amount past due. She said that many, including private citizens, corporate executives, or attorneys, have come forward to purchase an interest in the debt in the past. Taxpayers are given a 10-day grace period to pay bills during the February, May, August, and November quarters, when Markey said her office is at it's most busiest. Any payment after the quarter is charged 8 percent on the first $1,500 due and 18 percent on the balance, she said. Markey said many residents have chosen to make payments by phone using a credit card, which taxpayers have found to be more convenient.