BERLIN — The town will consider what action to take on a dozen parcels whose owners have not paid property taxes in the last 4 to 15 years — and collectively owe more than $600,000 — after the planning and zoning commission reviews the possible municipal use of each lot.
The council on Tuesday night discussed the progress of a push to collect an estimated $1 million in long overdue taxes in town, including the possibility of selling lots at a tax auction.
Adam Cohen, a tax lawyer hired by the town in February to try and collect the taxes, said about a dozen of the lots have pollution or other problems that probably will keep them from selling at an auction.
The planning and zoning review will determine if any of those lots would be of use to the town as open space or other purposes. Once that review is complete, the council will decide if any of the lots should be listed for auction anyway or if the town should try to claim title to any of the parcels, Town Manager Denise McNair said.
Since being hired by the town in February, Cohen has collected $196,921 from nine property owners who have responded to the letters he sent out and paid their back taxes. Cohen told the town that 13 other property owners, who own 19 separate parcels, have yet to redeem their land.
The dozen parcels Cohen considers unlikely to sell at auction are among these 19 properties. The dozen are in various sections of town and range from a .43-acre lot on Washington Avenue, which has been in arrears for 15 years, to a 56.9-acre lot of New Britain Road that has been delinquent for seven years.
David Kluczwski, the town tax collector, told the council Tuesday that the lack of response by the owners of the dozen parcels referred to the zoning commission probably means the current owners aren't going to pay their debts to retain ownership of the properties.
Some council members asked if foreclosing on the parcels would make sense. That and other isues raised Tuesday will be discussed in a few months once the zoning review is done.
The delinquent taxpayers have ignored their obligation and all town efforts to arrange payment plans or other alternatives.
Town policy states that parcels considered for tax sale must be at least three years delinquent with a minimum $10,000 in debt, or two years delinquent with a minimum $20,000 debt. Owners can redeem their land by paying their back taxes or making and honoring a payment plan approved by the town.