By JOHN HOWELL As soon as the letters from the tax collector went into the mail, the phones lit up. Letters to 2,300 delinquent property tax and utility payers shouldn't have come as a surprise. The city notified delinquent payers in January that they
As soon as the letters from the tax collector went into the mail, the phones lit up.
Letters to 2,300 delinquent property tax and utility payers shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The city notified delinquent payers in January that they had outstanding balances and unless they paid up or made arrangement to do so, their property would be up for a tax sale. That sale has now been scheduled for June 4 at 10 a.m. at Warwick City Hall.
“Since the letters went out, [the phone] has been non-stop,” Deputy Tax Collector William Miranda said. What he finds remarkable is that many callers sound almost indigent that they should have to pay taxes or surprised the city would take such measures to get paid.
“We’re not selling your house; we’re selling a lien against your home,” Miranda explains.
The sale affects those who have not paid property taxes, utilities and or sewer assessments assessed as of Dec. 31, 2019, and prior years.
Under usual conditions, the city conducts an annual tax sale. This past year, however, has been like no other.
Citing the pandemic and the hardships it placed on people, former Mayor Joseph Solomon canceled the tax sale. Delinquencies soared. When Frank Picozzi took office, the city was faced with $6.1 million in unpaid property taxes, another $2.8 in lagging utility bills and $1.3 million in overdue sewer assessment payments.
Letters went out, calls were made. In a matter of days, Centreville Bank, which holds the mortgage on the Wyndham Hotel that had amassed $850,000 in delinquent payments, paid $500,000 and made arrangements to pay off the balance in a year. Many followed suit.
Now those who didn’t take action in January are in the lineup for the tax sale. Just by waiting, they have added $200 to what they owe the city.
Kyla Jones said delinquent taxpayers have been referred to the firm used to conduct title searches on the properties. Those costs and expenses of advertising the sale are built into what the city aims to recover. Those properties listed in the sale will be advertised in the May 13 edition of the Warwick Beacon.
Up until the week prior to the advertisement, delinquents have the chance to pay off the amounts due or make arrangements and have their names removed from published list. Letters make it clear property owners have one year to redeem their property by paying the amount due plus a 10 percent penalty on the tax sale amount.
A year after the sale, the letter notes, “you may exercise your right to redeem through the tax sale purchaser or his or her attorney, or, if a petition to foreclose your right to redemption has been filed in Superior Court, you may redeem through the court until a final decree is entered forever foreclosing your right of redemption.”