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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.

Paul J. DiBartolo December 03, 2012 at 01:45 PM
The original article mentions Business Administrator Tom Cardis, Tax Assessor Chuck Palumbo, and Solicitor David Carlamere; I wonder where, how, and if Township Council and our mayor figure into this? I saw our mayor walking the Christmas Parade Saturday evening and am sorry now I didn't rush out to shake his hand and wish him the same Merry Christmas the township is wishing to those in hardship. So, allow me to make the effort now, Mr. Mayer, Mr. Cardis, Mr. Palumbo, Mr. Carlamere, and all of Township Council...Merry Christmas; I'm sure you've all made it the happiest time of year for the 3500 people on you list. And on behalf of our township leadership and administration, to heck with you, Mr. Frisch...pay your taxes.
GTWatchdawg December 04, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Gary, many people had this notification sent to them even though their MUA bill was paid ON TIME. Even though their name isn't on the list, they were sent this tax sale notice as well, so how many more than the 3500 got this notice. I encourage anyone who is either on the list, or knows someone on the list get more people on our elected officials who think that this is ok. Let us not allow this issue to die out, or go away as our Mayor and Council hope will happen. Keep on Blogging about it. KEEP people aware. Great job Gary.
Tom Catz December 05, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I think we need to vote out the mayor and all current council members when their terms expire. If all 3,500+ affected homeowners voted thumbs down on the current administration, that would put a serious crimp in their reelection chances.
Sybil Evans December 07, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Well Mr Dibartello, GTWatchdog Tom Catz and Mr Frisch do any of you have a clue if this is a state law or a municipal law? Mr Fricsh has said in his other blog that this is a STATE LAW. Now I ask what makes any of you believe anyone in the municipality can ignore the state laws? Why are all of you blaming the local mayor he did not write the law, why the tax assessor he has nothing to do with tax collections, why are you blaming the business administrator he also has nothing to do with state laws or tax collections? Do any of you know the state law requires the municipality to sell any unpaid tax debt to private lien holders after the 2nd quarter taxes and prior to years end because our town is on a calendar year? Do any of you know who forced the municipality to go to a calendar year or risk loosing special tax credits we receive, totaling over $750,000? If any of you answered Governor Chris Christie you would be correct. If you want to start blaming people there are two at fault here. One is Mr Frisch PAY YOUR TAXES! Nobody except you called you a deadbeat but you certainly are a delinquent. Second Governor Chris Christie insisted the municipality go to a calendar year instead of staying on a fiscal year or the tax sale would have been in May instead of December. Now read your tax bill it clearly says if your taxes and sewer bills are not paid November 11 you will go into tax sale. The bill was mailed in January, how much more notice does anyone need.
Paul J. DiBartolo December 07, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Well look at you, Sibilith, getting all pompous and stuff. Who's bright idea was it to accelerate the schedule, Christie? Or was that a local decision? And did Christie mandate that someone overdue on a $50 MUA bill should pay a fine along with 18% interest? I don't remember the State paying interest when it held back Homestead Rebates for months. Your modus operandi and lack of intelligence seem quite familiar. For whom do you shill because your comments don't impress one enough to think you speak for yourself?
Sybil Evans December 07, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Paulie D, why the name calling? To answer your questions 1. "Who's bright idea was it to accelerate the schedule, Christie?" YES because he mandated the sale to be by years end as part of the change to a calendar year fiscal structure. 2. "And did Christie mandate that someone overdue on a $50 MUA bill should pay a fine along with 18% interest?" Not it is not a mandate, its the LAW. Tax sale includes all delinquent tax's and county and municipal sewer bills as to not have to make the delinquent bare the expense of separate liens. As to your comment of a fine? There is no such thing, the allowable fees in the sale are the delinquency, interest and cost of the sale as mandated by state law. 3. "I don't remember the State paying interest when it held back Homestead Rebates for months." Obviously you don't remember that because Governor Christie not only failed to pay interest on what he deemed to be overpayments in property taxes he decided that you would only be returned 25% of what the average tax payer overpaid and then put further restrictions on that return by saying if you made more then $75,000 a year you are not entitled to have your overpaid property taxes returned to you. 4. "Your modus operandi and lack of intelligence seem quite familiar. For whom do you shill because your comments don't impress one enough to think you speak for yourself?" Right back at you, Paul, next time research before you blog. Don't filibuster your comments like Senator McConnell.
Paul J. DiBartolo December 08, 2012 at 12:12 AM
>> why the name calling? Do you read much? Are you that challenged that you couldn't get my name right? Therefore, don't attempt to lecture me on name calling. There is nothing in the Patch report on the accelerated sale that informs me that the accelerated tax sale is a requirement. From my search on the term it appears to be optional. Normal tax sales are sales that bid out the previous year's delinquent taxes. An accelerated tax sale bids out current year delinquent taxes. It appears to be a scheme on the part of any township in question to get the money faster. Nor can I find anything that mandates conversion to a calendar year from a fiscal year; it appears to be an option not a mandate. As for my Homestead Rebate comment, that was self-explanatory. The fact that you didn't get it gives me all the more reason not to waste any more time trying to explain it. Finally, I'll say it again...your technique is so familiar that it's not too hard to guess who you might be.
Sybil Evans December 08, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Sorry Paul if you don't know your name that's not my fault. Your bully tactics won't work on me, sorry I don't cower down to bullies. I have concerns about your mental stability when you make blatant lies like you did above, you attack every and anyone who has a different opinion then you and the name calling? Why such childish behavior from someone with a gray beard and gimpy body that looks to be somewhere in the late stages of a long life. Comments like you make seem so unstable they made me do some background checks on your comments. I have read some things you posted and you claim you home school your children, that's scary yet funny because school records prove again your lying. This blog itself shows your lying about me calling you any name other then what you identified yourself as. Show me in any post where I called you a name?
Sybil Evans December 08, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Now to answer your other pathetic attempts to discredit anyone. 1. "There is nothing in the Patch report on the accelerated sale that informs me that the accelerated tax sale is a requirement." That explains why you are so misguided on the law. Patch is a newspaper not a source of law. Are you intelligent enough to know the difference? 2. "Normal tax sales are sales that bid out the previous year's delinquent taxes." Not true law requires a tax sale to occur at the end of one tax year and prior to the next tax year GT is a calendar town. November ends the billing year. Period! 3. "It appears to be a scheme on the part of any township in question to get the money faster." Many things seem different to the uneducated your proving that with your post. 4. "Nor can I find anything that mandates conversion to a calendar year from a fiscal year; it appears to be an option not a mandate." So because you don't want to do research you feel Governor Christies mandate to change to a calendar year or lose funding doesn't apply?
Sybil Evans December 08, 2012 at 02:39 AM
5. "As for my Homestead Rebate comment, that was self-explanatory. The fact that you didn't get it gives me all the more reason not to waste any more time trying to explain it." I got it just fine. You refusing to understand the truth because the truth hurts Governor Christie's agenda is really not my problem that's your problem. Christie controlled your rebate if he didn't give it to you or pay you interest how is that the municipalities fault? Do you knot understand he stopped the homestead rebate. There is no such thing since he came into office. It is now called a homestead benefit and before you embarrass yourself saying it's the same thing I will advise you they are very different. One was a "REBATE" under the new program is a "BENIFIT". As a republican operative I know you probably don't have a dictionary that contains the word Benefit in it, and that's too bad but it does explain why your so lost when it comes to reality.
Paul J. DiBartolo December 08, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Post your real name and a picture, Sibilith, or shut up, really. Anybody that reads the vitriolic rubbish you spew knows exactly who you are and it's just a matter of time before you get banned again under your new name. BTW, I hope you enjoy reading your own gibberish because I didn't get past the first couple sentences and it's highly doubtful anyone else read it either unless maybe your friends, if you have any, over at the municipal building have the stomach for it.
Gary Frisch December 08, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Give it a rest, Sybil. Municipalities do have choices in the matter. They can choose to conduct an accelerated tax sale vs. a standard tax sale. The accelerated sale is just that - it's goal is to collect payment for delinquencies from the current calendar year, apparently even if homeowners are making good-faith payments. The standard tax sale is for delinquencies from the prior year. The vast majority of municipalities in NJ use the calendar tax sale. But GloTwp chooses to go the faster route. Maybe a referendum is needed to change this -- I'll be looking into it. Also, there's that mailing fee. State law prescribes that the city can charge "up to $25" per mailing, regardless of whether it's certified, regular or some other form of mail. The wording clearly gives discretion to the city. When I questioned Sandra Ferguson, the tax collector, about why the cost was $40 when the state allows only 2% (min. $15), her response was, "I chose to add $25 for mailing costs." She didn't say "I'm required to add" or "the law says I must add," but "I chose to add." She could've chosen to add $2 or $3 if she weren't a typical bureaucrat looking to simply enrich the city's coffers. Case closed, as far as I'm concerned. And both Paul and I have given you far too much credibility and consideration for someone who's hiding behind a pseudonym. A newspaper wouldn't so much as publish your letter to the editor.
GTWatchdawg December 09, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I am amazed that anyone would have even attempted to try and defend the township on this. Gloucester Township has to take their lumps on this one. Gloucester Township is sitting on plenty of revenue to cover that temporary shortfall of the residents. Red light camera revenues alone could do that. Mostly everyone catches up. The "key word" is catches up. It should be interesting to see who buys the liens. December 18th is coming. Don't let this get swept under the rug.
Paul J. DiBartolo December 09, 2012 at 03:49 PM
My employer used to advertise that based on its benefit and pay package that it was the employer of choice in engineering. That was then and this is now. Hard times have hit and one wonders if corporate tactics are meant to attract new hires or drive away seasoned employees. Gloucester Township likes to tout that GT is "a great place to live, work, and play." What with all the businesses that are shuttered that middle ideal is questionable. As for it being a great place to live...I love my property for the same reason I purchased it 18 years ago. I spent some of my high school years in Blackwood but consider my reasons for buying here naive. If I had known then what I know now I would have looked elsewhere. I guess the most one could say now is that GT is a great place to be a Democrat but I'm not sure if even that is worth being part of the "walking dead."
Sybil Evans December 11, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Ray Polidoro, I am surprised anyone would defend someone who failed to pay their taxes because they where on a trip with a bunch of strippers. Then again I guess I have to consider the source after all you Republicans defended Michael Steele when he spent over $10,000 of election funds in a sex bondage club. Ray Polidoro as the chairman on the Republican Party in town please explain to us why the as a representative of Shelly Lovett, Cindy Rau Hatton and the rest of the GTGOP you believe the taxpayers should cover Gary Frisch's delinquent tax bill? He owns his own business, (Not in GT but in Voorhees) He certainly has the funds to pay. After all I am not sure how many other people on the tax sale list could have afforded to go on a trip with strippers but not pay thier taxes. Talk about having screwed up priorities. That in itself is wrong, but then for him to argue and lie about his financial ability to pay, that is insulting. Then to write a blog pretending he could not pay because he was having "Hard Times" one only wonders what was giving him such "Hard Times" on that stripper trip he was on November 8, 2012.
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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