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REMINDER: Tax Sale To Be Held Thursday, December 27

Property owners have just Monday & Wednesday to pay 2012 taxes.

As the holidays draw near, Middletown is preparing for its annual tax sale, to be held 9:00 a.m. this Thursday, Dec. 27.  To be sold are unpaid property taxes for 2012, including those for the 4th quarter, and sewer fees owed for the fiscal year ending June 30th.

Notice of the tax sale was published in the Dec. 7th edition of the Two River Times.  I was told by the Township that the notice would be published again in TRT’s Dec. 21st edition, but I don’t see that online yet, so can’t confirm.  The tax sale list is the same in both editions, reflecting payments made prior to Nov. 26 only.  The list can be accessed temporarily here.  The archive link will expire around the end of this month.

I first provided notice of the sale on Patch on Dec. 12th.  Because there are a large number of properties on the list and many owners may not be aware they have unpaid balances, I felt it was important to get last minute word out to as many people as possible.  

Many of the amounts owed are small, a few hundred or less that may be only accrued interest in some cases.  I know a woman who owed just $50 or so a year or two back and she didn’t know until she saw her name in the paper.  She was embarrassed, but more relieved to have found out in time to escape a lien on her home.

A likely reason for the large number of delinquencies is that taxes for the current quarter are included in the sale.  Unfortunately, the quick sale may catch many people by surprise.

Both Middletown Township and TOMSA moved to an “accelerated” December sale schedule in 2010.  Prior to that, sales were in April, including April 2010, and included amounts owed for the prior calendar year.  The transition to a December sale schedule in 2010 provided a one-time revenue boost for that year.  While TOMSA included only the first two quarters of 2010 in the Dec. 2010 sale, the Township chose to include all 4 quarters of 2010 to maximize revenue that year.  As a result, the Township had to continue that cycle – selling 1st through 4th quarter unpaid taxes at the end of the tax year –  in order to include a full year’s worth of taxes in subsequent December sales. 

A review of public notices in the APP over the last few weeks shows that numerous other municipalities hold tax sales in December but many aren’t including the 4th quarter, or even the 3rd, in their sales.  Matawan is one example – their sale this year includes taxes through the 3rd quarter only.  I think that approach is far more reasonable and I would like to see Middletown change its current practice. 

There are some barriers, though.  One, in the same way that the transition to an “accelerated” sale schedule in 2010 produced extra revenue that year, “decelerating” could produce a shortfall and might only be feasible in a year when there is sufficient surplus to make up the difference. 

Another barrier has to do with how the municipal budget is developed, per discussion at the Nov. 14th meeting of the Township Committee.  See my Dec. 12th post for an explanation.

I hope you find this information helpful.  May you all have a happy and healthy holiday.

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.

Maureen December 24, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I do believe those in effected by this were notified via certified mail, additionally, the newspaper also advertised it once. I believe this is the second or third time that you posted the link. Perhaps, people would like a bit more privacy and may not appreciate your additional advertising.
Joe December 24, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Maureen makes an excellent point - you wouldn't be on this list if you hadn't ignored multiple warnings. Frankly Ms. Baum, I don't understand the point of this article. Are you saying towns should just let people slide and have everyone else pick up the slack? I have a simple solution - pay your bills on time. Everyone goes through rough times. I have never been late with a payment, even during a period of unemployment. Here's another suggestion, you Ms. Baum, may want to make bridge loans available to these folks. Then when they don't pay you back on time, YOU can decide if you want to "let them slide." In the meantime, the rest of the taxpayers won't be punished for other's financial difficulties. You may want to rethink your position (whatever it is) and look for another issue to hang your political hat on.
Linda Baum December 27, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Tax sales are a common practice for municipalities and I am not suggesting we not have them, just feel the tax quarters included in the sale should not be so recent. There would be no loss of revenue to the Twp -- interest would accrue on unpaid balances, which would eventually be sold if not paid. One change may be that there are fewer properties on the sale list, where more of the revenue comes from property owners themselves than from the sale. Regarding privacy, consider that public notice is required by law and serves a purpose – to notify. That is why the Twp published the list. Notification is improved by sharing a link to the public notice here. While letters may have gone out, there are reasons they may not have been received or read timely. There still may be many people who don’t know they have balances and may be glad to find out in time to avoid a property lien.
Linda Baum December 27, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Maureen, I just want to clarify that in my earlier response to your comment, I was not suggesting unpaid balances not be sold, just responding to your question about the effect if they weren't sold at any point.
Joe December 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Again Ms. Baum, I don't get the point of this article. If it's not to call attention to the people on the list or complain about the tax sale itself, then why bother? What is your point?????

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