Kenbridge wants to collect outstanding taxes

Published 1:31 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Town of Kenbridge is going to contract with an attorney to collect on outstanding real estate taxes, and will look for ways to gather other uncollected taxes.

During its Tuesday, Aug. 16 meeting, council decided to hire James Elliott of Yorktown to collect real estate taxes and discussed efforts to collect on other outstanding tax bills.

Elliott will get paid as he collects — $50 or 10 percent of outstanding tax liens, whichever is greater, Town Manager Robyn Fowler said.

The property owner, not the town, will get billed. The rates then increase if he has to do more research and additional work.

Town Attorney Cal Spencer called it a “very fair proposal” consistent with what other area localities are paying.

“I think he does a good job,” Spencer said.

Elliott will write letters to the homeowners, publish the names of offenders in the paper, and then file suit and get a judgment for the property, Hodges said.

Spencer said that seeing their name in print is usually enough to prompt people to pay their taxes.

Previous councils opposed publishing the names of those who had not paid their real estate taxes, but Hodges said it’s time for a change.

“I like the approach,” Hodges said. “I think that’s the most effective collection there is.”

Hodges cautioned, however, if the town is going to provide names to the public “we have to be absolutely certain we are giving him the right information.”

“We’ve got to double check and triple check,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Spencer said even if it gets to that point, some of the lots won’t be sold because they are so small, nothing can really be done with them and some purchase bids won’t be enough to make the sale worthwhile.

Eventually, Hodges said, the town would like to take steps to collect on other taxes, including personal property, water bills and business licenses “which we also have problems with.”

Spencer said those efforts might have to be turned over to collection services.