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Accelerated Tax Sale Blatant Strong-Arming

Gloucester Township's attempt to threaten and embarrass residents behind in payments into ponying up is instead an embarrassment to the Township itself.

The list is out, and according to Gloucester Township, I’m a tax deadbeat.

This, despite the fact that I was still in the process of making payments for my county sewer bill, the most recent payment being 25 percent of the outstanding balance.

For many, getting a little behind on bills has become the rule rather than the exception. In most cases, if you make payments in good faith, your electricity won’t be shut off, your cable TV won’t be cut. But that’s not the case here.

In its holiday gift to more than 3,500 residents, the Township has scheduled a tax sale for exactly one week before Christmas. Ho ho ho! Many of the amounts in arrears are less than $100, and some are for $60 or less. Yet our tax office in all its wisdom has determined a tax sale is needed for these homeowners (and some businesses) lest they won’t get their payments with accumulated interest fast enough. Not to mention arbitrary “costs” – which nobody bothered to warn us about prior to the delinquent notice.

I’ve owned three homes in three different municipalities before moving here in 2011. I’ve gotten behind on some utilities bills here and there, but have never been threatened with a tax sale before. The term was new to me. Accumulating interest charges and escalating statements in the mail were always enough to inspire payment in as timely a manner as possible. I’m by no means a deadbeat.

From what I’ve read here, this is an “accelerated tax sale,” so basically, even if we had every intention of paying off our nut by Dec. 17—one business day prior—we’re still in tax sale status, which means this can’t be paid like any other debt.

At a time when many homeowners are struggling and maybe living paycheck-to-paycheck, shelling out several hundred or a few thousand dollars at once can mean taking food off the table, or more likely fewer presents for the kids under the Christmas tree. Happy Holidays!

So why didn’t we simply pay the sewer bill, or the property tax when it was due?  No doubt everybody on this 102-page list planned to. But life probably intervened—a cut in work shifts or overtime, competing priorities like an unexpected car repair or a child needing braces. Sandy may have caused roof damage, or some felled trees that needed to be removed. In some cases, bills may have simply gotten misplaced, or misdelivered. For 10 months after moving here, I didn’t get a single South Jersey Gas bill because they had the wrong zip code. These things happen.

For the Township to go into “accelerated tax sale” mode and publicly embarrass people into paying their taxes when some of them are already making payments is reprehensible. And definitely not what I’d expect from a town that proclaims it’s "a great place to live, work and play."

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sybil Evans December 11, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Ray Polidoro, it is amazing that you are the same guy who cried like a baby that Freeholder Nash, not only should resign his Freeholders position, but should be locked up, for being late on a tax payment for a property that his wife owned despite the fact he was in the middle of a divorce from her and it was her that failed to pay the taxes on time. Talk about being a bit harsh, all the state wants him to do is pay for the costs of having to advertise his delinquency in the newspaper, You wanted to throw Nash in jail just for paying his wifes taxes late. Explain to us why if you feel so strongly you don't step up to the plate and pay his taxes for him? After all you seem to have had a revelation about tax delinquencies now that it's one of your friends that is late. It seems your a bit hypocritical here.
GTWatchdawg December 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM
TAX SALE DAY IN GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP This should have been postponed like the Council meeting
Gary Frisch December 18, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Why do you think they postponed the Council meeting, which was supposed to be held yesterday?
Darren Gladden December 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Because the leadership in our local government plan out stink ,......SHADY BUSSINESS as always .......
GTWatchdawg December 18, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I do believe that they did not want the public commenting on the tax sale before the date of the tax sale. They never postpone a meeting unless they have a motive of their own. Timing, but I don't think that was the only reason. We will see on the 27th.

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