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The Delinquent Property Tax Report

I suppose that I could be accused of having “too much time on my hands” to write about this…but let me try anyway.

Recently, as happens every year under the requirements of state law, a list of delinquent property taxpayers was published in the newspaper. It was eight full pages of small print. It is not a list that you want to be on.

Obviously, one of the policies behind such a legal requirement is the common sense notion that people do not want their names on such a list and that should give some impetus to their paying their taxes. Another, is that such notice requirements are needed before the County can begin foreclosure proceedings.

Interestingly, of the eight pages, three and half pages are of delinquencies in the cities of Dunkirk and Jamestown. That means that although the two cities make up 32% of our county’s population, they count, by parcel, for about 44% of our unpaid real property taxes.

This should be of concern not only to local city residents, but for all of us since unpaid taxes end up getting pushed on to those who are already paying their fair share. The statistics also remind us that our cities, especially, are plagued by the problem of old and deteriorating housing. There is probably no other priority higher for elected officials in these municipalities than the need to address this housing problem.

One anomaly in “List of Unpaid Taxes” that I noticed and that you didn’t see many years ago, is that more of these properties are owned by partnerships or limited liability companies (LLC’s.) This means that, unless you do a lot of digging, you are not really aware of who the delinquent person is.

One of these LLC’s was called “Penurious Real Estate.” “Penurious” means “extremely poor or poverty stricken.” Maybe the owner was giving notice that paying a property tax was not high on their priority list.

Another LLC used the name “Prideful” in its title. This can mean “arrogant” or “over-confident.” Should that have been a red flag to municipal officials not to expect a tax payment? Who is to know? Maybe the law should be changed so that there is a real name attached to a tax payment liability.

But, back to problem of delinquent taxes–it is a problem for all us. The county conducts annual auctions of properties where taxes have not been paid for at least three years. Often, the auction sales do not bring in sufficient funds to cover the liability, and, in some cases, the county is left with no option but demolition.

On the positive side, there is now a county “land bank” to help in dealing with foreclosed-upon properties. The land bank has several ways in which it can help, but its focus is on improving the communities and neighborhoods in which these problem properties are located.

Whoever first drew up the laws on property foreclosures certainly had one thing right–when people realize that they may lose their home or property for back taxes, a good portion of them will get to

Mayville and settle their accounts. Unfortunately, they will then find out that not only are they paying back taxes, but they must also pay additional interest and penalties for being late.

It is better to act timely, than to wait for your name to appear in in a tax-delinquency public notice in the newspaper.

Rolland Kidder

Stow, NY

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