With the County Legislature once again declining to aid villages in collecting back taxes, Saugerties is moving ahead with a plan to try to obtain back taxes.
Approximately 60 property owners owe about $178,000, according to the village.
There are no plans to take anyone to court or hire a collection agency — the average amount owed is too little. Instead, the plan is to print the names of the property owners in the newspaper, and hope the threat of published shame is great enough to compel most to settle up first. (Village officials said several have already paid their bills since village trustees first discussed the plan to publish names during an April meeting.)
Letters will go out June 1, with a July 1 deadline. Beginning on July 15, the village will add five percent interest on outstanding taxes, increasing that number by one percent each month after.
Mayor William Murphy said the amount owed by property owners has increased more rapidly in the last several years.
“I guess some of them just figured they could work the system and the village would do nothing about it, and they were wrong,” said Murphy. “But I also believe some of the people just honestly forget and then others honestly do not have the money. I’m sure the reasons vary.”
If property owners continue to fail to pay their taxes, their names will be filed with Ulster County and a note will be attached to the property’s deed saying that there will be no clear title to the property until back taxes are paid.
Ulster County collects back taxes for towns and school districts, but not villages. Legislators at their May 19 meeting argued it would be too expensive to take on the burden.