There have been so many political mailings and fliers about Union City’s financial woes going out to residents recently, it is hard to figure out which ones to read and which ones to discard. But what should be done with a letter that asks all homeowners to “Postpone your tax payments to Union City?”
The answer is found in the group of homeowners and retired persons who wrote the letter and hope that the residents are reading it and joining them in their movement against the recent tax hike that the city has endured.”Taxes for property in Union City are too high,” said Fabian Lacet-Subirat, a 79-year-old homeowner who has recently witnessed a 36 percent increase in his quarterly tax payment, last week. “There are a couple thousand people suffering the same political sickness, but nobody complains.”
Naming the consequences
The letter that is being circulated to all of city’s residents through the mail and door to door tells residents not to fear the “usual threats” of not paying taxes, claiming that if the people stop paying, the city will listen.
“The city only pays attention to people who recently come to the city,” said Lacet-Subirat, who believes that the city forgets about the working people who have lived there for years. “If we get 1,000 people to stop paying then the city will listen.”
Another member of the organization, John Romanik, feels that not paying taxes will force the city to make the necessary cutbacks to lower them.
“If we get 400 homeowners,” said Romanik, one of the active members in the organization, “that will be about two million dollars. The city will have to start laying people off.”
But, what exactly are the consequences of not paying your taxes?
First, there is interest added to late payments.
“Once the payment is late, interest accrues,” said Mary Clerici, the city’s tax collector. “Interest accumulates from the date the taxes are due to the day they are paid.”
Eight percent interest is charged on the first $1,500 and 18 percent interest is charged on any amount above $1,500.
Unpaid taxes can then be auctioned off at an accelerated tax sale the following year, said Clerici.
“The property is never sold at a tax sale,” explained Clerici. “But a lien is placed on the property.”
The person who purchased the lien has to hold on to it for two years before a foreclosure can be issued to the owner. Clerici added that the owner of the property could get a certificate of redemption at any time.
However, the taxes on the property will then be much more expensive.
“The owner has the right to redeem even if they get a foreclosure notice,” said Clerici. “But interest accretes daily.”
So far, this newly-formed organization of homeowners and working people has about 30 active participants. “We hope that in six months or nine months we will have 1,000 members,” said Lacet-Subirat. “Everyday our number is increasing.”