By ALEX MALM
About an hour before Friday’s tax sale was set to begin three people visited the tax collector's office in Buttonwoods to clear their debt and avoid having their property be put …
By ALEX MALM
About an hour before Friday’s tax sale was set to begin three people visited the tax collector's office in Buttonwoods to clear their debt and avoid having their property be put for sale.
Warwick Tax Collector Kyla Jones said when the 90-day legal process started about 2,500 properties subject to the sale.
It was around 9 a.m. and the Council Chambers was filling up with prospective bidders prepared to put their hands up first to possibly own different properties.
But before 10 a.m. when the auction began there was still a chance that some properties would be scratched from the list of properties.
Jones explained that any property that is delinquent on taxes for a year or has $750 in unpaid utility bills is subject to being sold.
After letters went out Jones said about a couple thousand owners became current on their tax and utility bills in order to avoid having their property up for sale.
“It dwindles tremendously,” she said.
Jones explained that Westbay Community Action was able to help with federal funding to pay utilities, and the city has people on payment plans. In some cases, the Tax Collector's office was able to get mortgage companies to intervene and help.
Those who remained on the tax sale list ultimately didn’t make their payments or arrangements to clear their debts.
Jones said the city hired an auctioneer Al Christofaro to decide whose hand goes up first, which becomes the winning bidder. At that point, the winning bidder decides if they want to assume 100 percent ownership of the property if it is foreclosed on or 1 percent. If the winning bidder picks 100 percent and someone else says 1 percent, it would go to the bidder who wants it at 1 percent.
The city only collects the amount that is due from utilities or taxes.
“Nothing more nothing less just whatever is due,” said Jones.
From that point the property owner has one year to go to the city and pay what is owed to retain ownership. In that case the person who won the bid would receive the amount they paid plus 10 percent for interest for the first six months and then an extra percent for subsequent months.
Jones said that this year’s sale was a little smaller than past years particularly because there is federal funding to help people from covid. She noted that last year was bigger since it was delayed the previous year.
“It's smaller than it normally is,” she said.
Jones also noted that there were a lot of vacant lots at this year’s tax sale. She said that typically people aren’t interested in bidding on them. Any properties that aren’t sold at the tax sale remain on the tax roll as unpaid.
Jones said that she wasn’t sure of the exact amount that the city was looking to collect from the sale of the properties at the time of publication. She said that a rough estimate was around $550,000.
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