At a time when the town has no money for road paving and drainage improvements, your tax dollars are being used to pay other people’s school and county taxes.
At a time when library hours have been cut and the closed on Sundays in order to control taxes, your tax dollars are being used to subsidize a private swimming club that you can’t join.
Does this make sense to you? Is this how you want your tax dollars spent?
As taxpayers, here are the facts you should know:
- The town board is dragging its feet on dealing with the remaining 54 property owners on the 2008 foreclosure list who owe $1.8 million in unpaid taxes, some dating back to 1995.
- More than one half of the $1.8 million, or $995,040, is owed by the owners of 15 houses, including at least two, and possibly a third, that are vacant. The owner of one house owes $167,135 dating back to 2004. Another owes $133,991 dating back to 2006 and a third owes $60,245 dating back to 2003. A fourth house, currently vacant, is owned by a corporation that owes $66,723.
- The owner of an occupied commercial building on Route 6 owes $94,198 in back taxes dating back to 2006.
- The private swimming club owes $40,528.
- A total of $300,566 is owed by the owners of 37 vacant parcels, some with liens dating back to 1995. It’s unlikely that the town will ever be able to collect on most of these liens. At best, the Town may be able to sell some of the parcels so that the revenue from the sales can offset at least some of the unpaid taxes.
When the subject of unpaid taxes and foreclosure was raised at a recent town board meeting, Supervisor Grace said he would address the vacant parcels but that he "won’t throw anyone out of their home" and that the town had to "work with" the owners.
In fact, that’s exactly what the town has been doing – for over a year.
- On January 31, 2011, a letter was sent to all property owners owing taxes from 2008 and earlier reminding them of the liens and alerting them to the fact that the town would be commencing legal action to collect the liens.
- On March 16, 2011, the town filed the foreclosure petition. All 185 property owners on the list received notification. The property owners had until September 9, 2011 to redeem their liens or enter into installment agreements to pay off the liens, as well as current taxes, within 24 months.
- By September 30, 2011, 99 property owners had paid approximately $900,000 in back taxes and 21 others had entered into installment agreements.
- In November, 2011, following an October town board discussion, the remaining property owners on the 2008 foreclosure list were sent yet another letter alerting them to the fact that the Town would be proceeding with the foreclosure process.
After three warning letters over 13 months, how much more time should the town give these property owners?
No one wants to "throw anyone out of their house" – Supervisor Grace hasn’t cornered the market on compassion. But what about having compassion for the homeowners who've been struggling to pay their taxes? Unless the town board takes action soon on all 54 parcels, those taxpayers will have to pay someone else's school and county taxes for yet another year.
Special Note: The 2008 Foreclosure Petition is tentatively scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s untelevised Town Board work session.