POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- Pound Ridge's Town Board gave its unanimous approval for the town attorney to initiate foreclosure proceedings against property owners with unpaid taxes.
The board's Dec. 4 approval covers properties with late taxes dating to as recently as 2011. Although the board had the option to use 2012 as the cutoff year, it declined to do so. The board authorized spending up to $5,000 on the proceedings.
Town Attorney William Harrington explained that proceedings can cover taxes that are unpaid for two years or more. For the first two years, he explained, a property owner has a statutory redemption period. This means that taxes can be repaid without the possibility of a proceeding.
The problem of unpaid taxes is not a big problem in town, according to Harrington, but he added as a matter of "good governance" the state's comptroller encourages municipalities to bring proceedings.
Notices would be served to the owner and anyone with an interest on the property, such as a bank, the town attorney explained. The owner would still have the ability to redeem the taxes or to enter into a settlement with the town for up to five years, Harrington added. There is also a statutory interest rate of 12 percent, according to Harrington.
In addition to repaying back taxes, according to Harrington, a settlement would require that the owner stays current on paying.
If a matter cannot be resolved, the town can foreclose on liens and can have a foreclosure sale, according to the town attorney. The town would take title to a property if no one submits a superior bid, Harrington added.
Pound Ridge has rarely taken title, according to Harrington, who explained that such properties have not been economical to develop.
In an interview, Harrington pegged the amount that the town could collect from proceedings at approximately $260,000. During the meeting, it was disclosed that the town could collect $155,000 if it took action for 2012.
In arguing for using a 2011 cutoff, Supervisor Dick Lyman brought up the warnings sent out about unpaid taxes, which he called "nasty-grams" and argued leaving time for people to start paying.
Councilman Daniel Paschkes spoke favorably of the action, calling it the "right balance.” He argued that it involves taking action against delinquent offenders and puts people who have fallen behind more recently on notice.