If a property owner fails to pay town taxes, the county compensates the town and goes after the back taxes. Not so with villages. For some time now, the village of Saugerties has lobbied for the county to extend this practice to the county’s three villages (Saugerties, Ellenville, New Paltz), but to no avail.
County Legislator Chris Allen, whose district includes the village, said there just weren’t enough votes. He said “a number of legislators don’t believe in the village form of government and believe they should be dissolved, while others were unsure if they would have made enough money from selling the properties to pay for the time and resources it would have taken to go after non-paying property owners.”
So the village is still on its own. At first, trustees tried to find a collection agency willing to do the job. But according to village treasurer Helene King, the agencies said the amount owed meant it wasn’t worth their time. So trustees charged King with the job of collecting the $179,517 in back taxes from property owners. If they don’t pay up in a timely manner, the trustees will take out a legal ad in the paper listing their names and how much they owe.
Letters will be going out this week to the 62 property owners that owe back taxes as of Nov. 2014, demanding that they make good on the payments by July 1. On July 15, the village will begin to charge interest on the owed money at five percent and each and every month after that an additional one percent will be added onto the bill. King said the village stands to collect a total of $242,965 because of past interest owed.
However, should property owners continue to not pay their taxes, the village will file the names with the county and a note will be attached to the property’s deed saying there will be no clear title to the property until the back tax bill is satisfied.
“We know that sometimes people have a bad year and can’t pay their taxes, but in some cases property owners haven’t paid taxes for four or five years. They are abusing the system,” Murphy said. “But now we are going to go after them, so the free ride is over.”