Northampton makes plans to pursue back taxes

Published 6:17 pm Friday, January 10, 2020

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JACKSON – “We have a lot of old taxes on the books.”

That’s what Northampton Board of Commissioners Chair Charles Tyner said at their meeting here on Jan. 6. He was referring to the Board’s desire to collect the “over $3 million” in back taxes owed to the county.

To address this issue, the Board approved a contract to work with Zacchaeus Legal Services, a law firm which specializes exclusively in tax foreclosure services. Parcels with delinquent taxes will be foreclosed upon in order for the county to recoup the money owed.

Northampton County Attorney Scott McKellar first brought this contract before the Board in November, but asked for it to be tabled then until he could get the details finalized.

At that meeting he explained, “there is a backlog of past due taxes owed in Northampton County, as there is in many rural counties in northeastern North Carolina.”

The original plan was to address the issue in-house with McKellar’s goal being to file 10 new foreclosures a month. But that wouldn’t be enough to make a big difference, he said, so the attorney sought out Zacchaeus Legal Services to take care of the work. He noted that they handle this work for several counties, including Hertford and Gates.

At the most recent commissioners’ meeting in January, McKellar presented the contract again for consideration. The cost would be $1,200 per parcel plus any incurred expenses, which he noted was a reasonable price.

Tyner praised the idea, stating that no one who owed taxes would be exempt. He did, however, suggest that a payment plan could be an option for people who couldn’t pay the full amount owed all at once.

He also noted the towns would benefit from this new initiative as well, since they would receive their portion of money owed on any foreclosed parcels located within their town limits.

“We’ve let it go too long,” he concluded.

Commissioner Nicole Boone motioned to approve the contract, and Commissioner Kelvin Edwards seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.