Getting tough on back taxes

Published 8:12am Tuesday, October 22, 2013

JACKSON – If you are in arrears on paying property tax in Northampton County, be forewarned that there may be a knock on your door.

At their most recent meeting, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners granted approval on a request made by County Manager Ken Creque to begin the process of soliciting bids from legal firms specializing in the collection of delinquent taxes.

Creque said dating back to 2006, the county has 19,465 accounts in arrears with a value of $3,377,643.78.

“I would like the board’s permission to seek firms that beginning Jan. 6, 2014 will start collecting back taxes and, as needed, foreclosure proceedings against those parties that are in arrears,” Creque said.

“This only goes back seven years, right; after 10 years the law says you cannot collect back taxes,” stated Commission Chairman Robert Carter.

“I’ve actually spoken with a retired collections agent who told me that many of these firms like to work with more recent years for collection purposes,” Creque advised.

Creque held up a significantly large ledger book which lists the back taxes since 2006.

“I would expect the pages in this book to grow come January of next year,” Creque said, referencing the deadline for property owners in the county to pay their most current taxes for 2013.

Commissioner Chester Deloatch asked how the collection firm is paid.

“They charge a percentage of what they collect,” Creque stated. “The fees range from five percent to as high as 12-to-13 percent, depending on who does the work and how big is the case load. Generally, the more money they can collect, the lower the percentage they charge.”

Commissioner Joe Barrett asked once the proposals are received, who decides which one is hired by the county.

“All I’m doing at this point is soliciting firms to do the work. I will bring the names of the firms responding to the RFP (request for proposals) back to this board and you will make the decision on which one gets the job,” Creque said.

On a motion from Commissioner Fannie Greene and a second from Deloatch, the board voted 5-0 to give Creque the authority to send out RFPs to agencies who deal with delinquent tax collections.

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