by Terry Rogers
As of August 1, 2017, the City of Milford had $500,058 in delinquent taxes, code violations and penalties owed by property owners. As of April 2018, the City has collected over $200,000 of the delinquent amounts owed thanks to a new procedure established when the City Charter was updated in 2017.
“We are thankful for the residents who have called and contacted the City to resolve their balances,” Suzannah Frederick, City Accountant, said. “We currently have 28 property owners on payment plans that were 100 percent compliant through March 2018.”
The old process for recovering delinquent taxes and other fees owed to the City could take 15 to 18 months for the City to recover any funds. In some cases, the recovery process could take longer, or the City may not recover funds at all. Changes were made to the state law, and in 2017 Milford’s City Charter was modernized to adopt a new munition sales process.
“Now that our City’s Charter is in alignment with the Delaware Code, we start with a 30-day notice giving the delinquent taxpayer an opportunity to make payment and warning of the consequences,” Frederick said. “If payment is not made, attorneys for the City will proceed with proper filings, additional notices, etc., so that a monition, or Sheriff’s sale, can be scheduled. It appears the average time for the new process will be 10-12 months quicker than before.”
In addition to the new process for collecting past due amounts, the City now calls property owners who owe smaller amounts, generally $3,500 or less, to offer payment plans. According to Frederick, this personal contact often provides the opportunity for the City and taxpayer to discuss the situation. “Taxpayers seem to appreciate the option to get back on course with payments and avoid a monitions sale,” said Frederick.
The new tax year has added an additional $99,000 in past due taxes and fines, Frederick explained. The current total owed to the City is $340,100 which includes unpaid taxes, a one percent penalty per month and any code violations that have not been paid. The City has a goal of lowering the amount owed by $20,000 each month until the accounts are once again paid in full.
Several properties on Airport Road were scheduled for a monitions sale in January. A few days before the sale, the property owners stepped forward and agreed to a payment plan, Frederick said. The payment plan is in compliance but the property owners are aware that if a payment is missed, the City will resume the monitions process and the properties will be sold at Sheriff’s sale.
City officials encourage anyone who is falling behind or unable to pay their property taxes to reach out to the City Customer Service Office by calling 422-6616 and speak to Carol about the possibility of a payment plan.
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