SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — The Village Board approved an agreement in which Ulster County will take over tax collection duties when property owners fail to meet annual payment deadlines.
The move, during a meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, comes 14 months after the village convinced county lawmakers to provide the same assistance provided to towns and school districts. Those entities are made whole for their respective fiscal years, with the county covering the delinquent amounts. If the amount remains unpaid for three years, the county is allowed to begin foreclosure proceedings.
“The county only goes after people when they don’t pay all their taxes for three years,” Mayor Bill Murphy said. “So a lot of people … don’t pay village (taxes) but they’re paying county and school and (county officials) don’t want to foreclose on them. That’s why some people (think) they can get away with it because the village has no way of going after them.”
Village Treasurer Paula Kerbert said after the session that there are about 20 properties with unpaid taxes that are overdue anywhere between two to five years.
“There one person with four properties who’s four years behind and owes … close to $12,000,” she said.
Among the problems for the villages of Saugerties, Ellenville, and New Paltz is having tax bills issued in June while town and county bills are issued together on a single bill payable to the town. However, if the town and county bill is not paid by May, it is turned over to the county, which is better equipped to levy additional fines and ultimately force the sale of properties at auction to recover overdue amounts.
“(Property owners) don’t get foreclosed on in the village so they figure they can let it go,” Kerbert said.
Once a village property owner acquires a delinquent status, a monthly routine begins of issuing requests for payments.
“Every month I send out all the ‘past due’ notices for all the taxes,” Kerbert said.
Murphy said there was one person who had come “to a meeting and called themself a taxpayer,” to which he responded, “Technically you’re not.”
County lawmakers approved the legislation, which requires the village to opt into the collection process, in October 2022, after unsuccessful efforts in 2002, 2014 and 2017. Among the reasons given for not approving the legislation earlier was that it would require more time and effort by the county. Then-county Finance Commissioner Burt Gulnick contended in 2017 that it would require additional staff for both his office and for the county attorney’s office.