If every postal customer were like the Gloucester Township tax office, the U.S. Postal Service would be swimming in money, rather than finding ways to scale back services and climb out of near bankruptcy.
That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn when the Township chooses to tack on $25 per property to cover the cost of mailing a delinquency notice. This on top of other costs associated with the pending “accelerated” tax sale, scheduled for Dec. 18. For my part, I received two letters via regular mail—two 45 ¢ stamps—but am being charged $25 for the correspondence intended to collect a couple hundred bucks that I was already making payments on.
Under state law (54:5-38), the Township can charge “2% of the existing lien…but not less than $15 and not more than $100 for each parcel” included in the tax sale. For a significant chunk of those on the 102-page delinquency list—those who owe $750 or less—that equates to the minimum $15. But that fee isn’t enough. On top of the woe being dished out during the holiday season, the tax collector unashamedly cites statute 54:5-26, which states:
In lieu of any two publications, notice to the property owner and to any person or entity entitled to notice of foreclosure pursuant to section 20 of P.L.1948, c.96 (C.54:5-104.48) may be given by regular or certified mail, the costs of which shall be added to the cost of the sale in addition to those provided in R.S.54:5-38, not to exceed $25 for each [set of notices] notice for a particular property.
So like the worst kind of ad agency that charges clients for staples and faxes, the Township is focusing on the “not to exceed” fee in order to squeeze even more out of those who already owe. Had they added a buck, they’d make a 10 ¢ profit over the cost of postage for two mailings, or break even if you count the paper and printer ink. Heck, $2 would cover all the mailing fees quite nicely.
But it’s not enough for a greedy administration that insists on further picking the pockets of its residents least likely to be able to pay.