February 18, 2021

Bank comes up with $500K to bail out delinquent taxpayer

Bank comes up with $500K to bail out delinquent taxpayer


By JOHN HOWELL

Sometimes all it takes is a call.

That’s what it took last week for Centreville Bank to pay $500,000 on the account of the city’s largest delinquent taxpayer, and to work out a plan to pay the remaining balance due of $350,000 over the next year.

Centreville holds the mortgage on the Wyndham Hotel, at one time the Sheraton, on Post Road.

Kyla Jones, city tax collector, said last week she was in contact with the bank after the city sent out notices to delinquent taxpayers that it plans to hold a tax sale. She said the bank inquired whether there was a way it could avoid having the property listed in the tax sale, which would incur additional expenses whether the property eventually made the sale or not. Jones took up the bank’s offer to pay half a million dollars now and the rest in $50,000 monthly installments. Jones said she had tried to contact the property owner over the last three years without results, and then the bank stepped in.

While still the city’s largest delinquent property taxpayer, Jay Petal, who is listed as the owner of the hotel, is by no means without company.

In the past week, the tax collector’s office sent out 1,355 letters to delinquent property taxpayers for a total of $6.1 million due. The office also sent out 2,418 notices on unpaid water and sewer bills totaling $2.8 million and 981 notices for unpaid sewer assessments totaling $1.3 million.

As soon as the letters were in the mail, the tax collector saw an up tick in payments and calls.

“Some said they knew it and would get around to paying it,” Jones said. With notification that their property could be placed in a tax sale, Jones said others said they didn’t have the money right now and asked what they could do.

The city is agreeable to working out payment plans provided there is not a prior history of a plan that wasn’t followed and that going forward they stay current as well as meet the payment schedule.

Guidelines for water and sewer payments vary based on the amount due, starting at $300 to $500 to be paid off in three months to greater than $1,000 to be paid off in 12 months. A condition of the plan is that the legal owner of the property abides by the payment schedule and pays quarterly utility bills.

Utility bills are considered delinquent after 60 days following the due date. Should the payer not respond within 15 days of the delinquent notice, the city can then issue that it has the right to shut off the water. If no payment or provision is made, the city has the right to shutoff the water within seven business days.

Citing the economic impact of the pandemic, former Mayor Joseph Solomon did not hold a tax sale last year. Delinquent notices were not sent out on past due taxes or utility bills. Solomon also held back the first sewer assessments notices on the Governor Francis Farms Phase III sewer project.

A date has not been finalized for a tax sale, but it is expected to be held in June. Jones and city Finance Director Peder Schaefer are considering a virtual sale, as was done by Providence last year.

Mayor Frank Picozzi shared the news of the $500,000 payment last week, reveling in the boost to city coffers.

“A lot of money is owed the city, but they’re not going to volunteer paying. You have to ask them,” he said.





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