GREENFIELD — City council members began talking to residents about the tax ownership process on Tuesday night. This practice has been called “home property theft” by critics in the few cases that have led to foreclosures.
“This feels like an opportunity to think positively and enact legislation that benefits the citizens of Greenfield,” said residents at a Ways and Means Commission meeting Tuesday night. At-Large Trustee Christine Forgey later said: .
Forgay said the commission hopes to meet with Mayor Roxanne Wedegartner and tax collector Kelly Verner at a meeting next month.
Tuesday’s conversation began with Mitch Speight and Joan Marie Jackson, two residents who recently completed the tax return process. They described the process as unethical, aggressive, and sometimes confusing.
“Having my property disposed of is more than an inconvenience. It’s an affront to my very dignity,” Jackson said. “These warlike attacks from the city of Greenfield, Massachusetts are unacceptable, unethical and will not be tolerated.”
Jackson credited their lawyers for being able to “dismantle” the city’s attempt to confiscate their property outright.
The April 15th edition of the Greenfield Recorder listed 41 properties in legal notices and said the city would mark these properties “for non-payment after demand, taxes, interest thereon, and all incidental charges to date.” announced its intention to acquire for provided, however, that the same amount is not paid by the due date. ”
Of the properties listed, a handful of properties are identified as parcels, while others appear to be private residences, apartment complexes, or commercial properties.
Varner previously explained that the city will send reminder notices at the end of the current fiscal year if a property owner has not paid taxes for the previous fiscal year. Two letters will then be sent advising the owner to make the necessary payment to prevent the initiation of taxpayer title proceedings.
Taxpayers often take up to a year to pay off outstanding taxes, Verner noted, and the city is working with property owners to develop payment plans.
“What you heard from my neighbors…was a typical case I heard,” commented resident Al Norman. It’s very confusing.”
Norman outlined a series of 10 proposals for city councilors to consider moving forward. Those included posting information on the city’s website explaining how the tax title works in Massachusetts and how Greenfield uses it. Consider the options under Chapter 60 where Greenfield outlines the collection of local taxes. Send notices of rights to property owners more frequently. Create detailed repayment agreements.
Among other things, the proposal included drafting a letter of intent that the city would be entitled to full compensation for delinquent property taxes, while Greenfield would not charge taxpayers more than they owe. .
At the state level, legislators are also trying to address this. Bill H 3053 improves notification procedures for people undergoing tax foreclosure proceedings and ensures that excess proceeds generated from tax sales are returned to the original property owner.
District 3 Councilor Virginia “Ginny” DeSauger asked how rental properties fit into the equation.
“In my opinion…if someone is using this as an art form or profit and owns multiple properties that are not going to pay and are not paying, I think you are protecting the city. “It’s just a question,” DeSorgher said. ?”
Norman said the two aren’t treated very differently. For landlords, he said a certain period of time, which the city uses for leniency, is required before beginning the tax ownership process.
“The way the law works…the City of Greenfield is entitled by law to recover 16% interest, court fees and attorney fees in addition to taxes,” Norman said. , the question is how it will come to pass … No one I have spoken to about this has ever said that we should allow tax delinquencies in any case, we are not talking about that We are talking about receiving what we owe in order to complete us.
Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.