TOWN TO FORECLOSE ON 131 PARCELS --COPIES OF 7 LETTERS I WROTE TO PROPERTY OWNERS ASKING IF WE COULD HELP BETWEEN 2013 AND MAY, 2015 CAN BE READ BELOW
The Greenburgh Town Board will vote Wednesday night to authorize a foreclosure petition to be filed in Supreme Court on June 30th for 131 parcels that haven't paid taxes. In December, 2013 there were 479 parcels with liens as of 2010 and prior. Since that time the number of parcels have been reduced to 131 representing $11,436,747.36 in back taxes owed to the town. We anticipate that some of the property owners will be able to avoid foreclosure if they take action between now and mid October when a Judge could turn the properties to the town.
We have tried very hard to avoid this action. We initiated the back tax collection process after learning in 2013 that 21.8 million in back taxes was owed to the town. Copies of seven letters I wrote to each property owner can be read below. Among actions taken to help families: The Town Board authorized an amnesty on tax interest. I met with many property owners and introduced them to non profit organizations like Westchester Residential Opportunities willing to help --organizations like Westchester Residential Opportunities. Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes, Tim Lewis and Michael Pflaum of the Town Atttorney's office discussed payment plans with others. Others sold their properties or obtained reverse mortgages.
Taxes owed from 2014 and 2015 are not on this years foreclosure list. The town is required by law to wait before initiating an action.. The Town Board will now be conducting in rem procedures annually and will not wait years before pursuing these actions.
Town will own the parcels if not paid or subject to installment agreement in mid-October (subject to Judge signing); I will be reaching out to the 131 properties on the foreclosure list again--encouraging them to take this seriously. And, I will offer to connect them to non profits that could be of help. There is still time to avoid losing everything and having the town take possession of their property. But--time is running out.
Info on foreclosed properties will be available in Tax Receiver’s Office. After the town takes ownership we will sell the properties.
COPIES OF LETTERS I WROTE RESIDENTS OWING BACK TAXES LISTED BELOW
August 5, 2013
The Receiver of Taxes and Town Attorney have advised me that you owe some back taxes. I know that this is a stressful time for you and your family. I would like to be of help. There are some organizations that you should reach out to that can be of assistance. Westchester Residential Opportunities (telephone: 428-4507) has great services. There is also a group called Community Housing Innovations (683-1010). They provide foreclosure prevention assistance. There is another organization that you may wish to contact: Community Capital Resources (747 8020). This entity provides budget and credit card counseling. I hope that the above information is helpful to you and your family. I am always available to speak with you, if you feel that would be helpful. The Town Attorney’s office, working with the Receiver of Taxes office, is able to work out payment plans for back taxes.
There is another benefit that you might be eligible for if you are a veteran and are on a fixed income. Please read the enclosed article. Also, if you are on a fixed income Con Ed offers homeowners and tenants who receive social security benefits such as HEAP, food stamps, public assistance low income rates. You should visit the Con Ed website: www.coned.com/customers central and www.coned.com/greenteam for more information. These websites provide residents with more information. If you don’t have a computer and think you are eligible but don’t know how to get the application – please feel free to contact me directly. I will try to help.
Paul J. Feiner
September 26, 2013
TAX INTEREST AMNESTY PROGRAM ANNOUNCED
FOR THOSE WHO OWE BACK TAXES
$21.8 million is owed to the town in back taxes by businesses and property owners. As a result, foreclosure proceedings will begin soon. To help those residents who are facing difficulties meeting their tax obligations, the Town Board approved the resolution on the back of this letter on September 25, 2013 authorizing a tax interest amnesty if back taxes are paid in full by December 30, 2013. This will help reduce the arrears owed to the town by those in arrears since the interest is at a 12% rate. If you have multiple properties, taxes for all properties must be paid to qualify for this amnesty program.
There are some organizations that you should reach out to that can be of assistance. Westchester Residential Opportunities (telephone: 428-4507) and Housing Action Council (332-4144) have great services. There is also a group called Community Housing Innovations (683-1010). They provide foreclosure prevention assistance.
The Receiver of Taxes is Anne Povella. Her office can respond to questions you may have about arrears owed to the town. Her telephone number is 993-1512.
Paul J. Feiner
Cc: Greenburgh Town Council
Tim Lewis, Town Attorney
Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes
TB-2 – 09/25/13
RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF GREENBURGH
ESTABLISHING A TAX INTEREST AMNESTY PROGRAM FOR QUALIFIED TOWN PROPERTY OWNERS, OFFERING A 100% ABATEMENT OF INTEREST THAT HAS ACCRUED SINCE THE PROPERTY TAX WENT TO LIEN, PROVIDED ALL PROPERTY TAX LIENS ARE CLEARED AND ALL PROPERTY TAXES ARE PAID IN FULL BY THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON DECEMBER 30, 2013
WHEREAS, there are currently a significant number of Town tax liens outstanding which could
result in foreclosure proceedings to collect the outstanding debt; however, the Town Board desires to give
owners of real property situated within the Town with such liens an opportunity to avoid impending
foreclosure proceedings by granting such owners a one-time incentive to pay off their property tax liens;
WHEREAS, the Tax Interest Amnesty Program Incentive proposed by the Town Board consists
of 100% abatement of interest that accrued on the tax liens subsequent to the date that the property tax
went to lien; and
WHEREAS, the Town is desirous of offering a qualified Town property owner the Tax Interest
Amnesty Program Incentive, provided the property owner clears all outstanding real property tax liens
and pays in full all outstanding property taxes no later than the close of business on December 30, 2013;
WHEREAS, pursuant to 1182 of the New York State Real Property Tax Law, the Town Board, as
the governing body of Town, may authorize the Town’s Receiver of Taxes to permit cancellation, in
whole or in part, of any interest, penalties or other charges to which the Town would be entitled to, if the
Town Board determines that such cancellation is in the best interest of the Town; and
WHEREAS, the Town Board finds that such cancellation of interest subsequent to the date that
the tax went to lien, pursuant to the proposed Tax Interest Amnesty Program, is in the best interests of the
WHEREAS, the Town’s offer of the Tax Interest Amnesty Program , referred to above, is a onetime
offer, which terminates as of the close of business on December 30, 2013 and does not apply to any
tax payments received prior to the initiation of the Tax Interest Amnesty program;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board of the Town of Greenburgh
hereby establishes a Tax Interest Amnesty Program Incentive for qualified Town property owners,
offering an opportunity for property owners to clear outstanding property tax liens in exchange for a
100% abatement of interest that accrued subsequent to the date that the tax went to lien, provided all
outstanding real property tax liens are cleared and all outstanding property taxes are paid in full by the
close of business on December 30, 2013; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Tax Interest Amnesty Program Incentive, referred to above,
is applicable to interest on taxes that went to lien post-January 1, 1995, and is a one-time offer,
commencing September 26, 2013, and terminating at the close of business on December 30, 2013, and
does not apply to any tax payments received prior to September 26, 2013.
May 28, 2014
This letter is being written because I’m nervous about the foreclosure process that is about to take place. As you may know, the town is proceeding with plans to foreclose on properties that owe taxes. Foreclosure will take place within months, however there is still time to avoid worst case scenarios. I personally know many of the people who are in danger of having their properties foreclosed and I am stressed out. Many of the people who owe back taxes are decent people, like you, who are experiencing hard times. My goal is to help you get past this stressful time.
Under the law when a foreclosure takes place the local government gets the property. If a house is worth $500,000 and the taxpayer owes the town $100,000 the taxpayer loses the entire equity in the house - all $500,000. However, if you are able to sign a tax agreement and pay the back taxes in installments over a two year period you don’t lose everything. You only pay what you owe. Selling your home or obtaining a reverse mortgage is preferable to letting the government take your property.
There is an organization called Westchester Residential Opportunities. They have helped people just like you. They have received a grant from Westchester County, the United States government and private funders to help people who owe taxes avoid losing the entire equity in their home. They have helped Westchester residents retain the equity in their homes or transition to new housing if the home is no longer affordable.
I spoke with Jane Lindau earlier this week. She told me that she does not charge a fee for her service. She would love to help you. Jane’s phone number is 428-4507 ext. 313. I hope that you will take advantage of her offer to help. Our goal: for you to get back on your feet, and to make the best possible decisions. Thanks so much for being proactive and making smart choices for your families.
Paul J. Feiner, Town Supervisor
WRO IS A HUD CERTIFIED NOT-FOR-PROFIT HOUSING COUNSELING AGENCY
DIRECTOR OF SENIOR HOUSING
HECM Counselor, Foreclosure Counselor
Westchester Residential Opportunities
470 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 410
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel 914 428-4507 ext. 313
Fax 914 428-9455 Hours: Monday through Friday 8am - 4pm
June 26, 2014
Thought you might be interested in our July 15th workshop for those who are behind in paying taxes. Jane Lindau and Westchester Residential Opportunities received a grant to help people avoid foreclosures.
Unfortunately, the town is required to collect taxes owed to us. NYS law states that when a town forecloses, the town takes ownership of the property. For example, if a taxpayer owes the town $80,000 and their property is worth $1,000,000 and we foreclose on the property, the person who owes us the back taxes not only loses the $80,000 but loses the entire value of the property.
That's why I keep writing to you. I don't want the town to get a windfall. The entire Town Board and I want you to pay your obligations to the town and not lose everything. Jane Lindau might be able to help you in giving advice or assisting you during these difficult times.
It's possible that properties that are going to be foreclosed will be turned over to the town by the end of the year. So - there is still a little time left.
Thanks for taking action steps to avoid the foreclosure.
Paul J. Feiner
July 28, 2014
Dear Property Owner,
I'm sorry if these letters to property owners who face foreclosure are stressing you out. But, our intentions are good: We don't want you to lose all the value of your property.
Under New York State law, once a property is foreclosed by a municipality the local government gets to keep 100% of the property values. If a taxpayer’s house is worth $500,000 (for example) and the taxpayer owes $90,000 in back taxes the town gets to keep the $500,000. And - after the Judge turns over the property to the town, the former owner gets NOTHING.
During the month of August the town will be taking the next steps that will lead to foreclosure. The Town Attorney's office has advised that names and addresses of people who owe taxes will have to be published in the newspapers - a provision required by state law. It's possible that a Judge could turn over the properties on the foreclosure list to the town in late November, although it's likely that it could take a little (but not much) longer.
Since my last letter was sent out a number of people have worked out payment agreements with the Receiver of Taxes office. Others have reached out to family members asking for help, or have contacted real estate brokers, putting their homes up for sale. Westchester Residential Opportunities could also be contacted for assistance. Jane Lindau can be reached at 914-428-4507 ext. 313.
I understand that you are facing a problem--owing back taxes to the town. I also understand how stressful this is for you and your family. I'm hopeful that you'll be proactive now while there is still time so you won't lose all your equity.
I am more than willing to meet with you personally and want to be of help. I'm stressed out because I want you to come out of this with the best scenario possible.
Paul J. Feiner
November 7, 2014
As you know, the town is obligated to pursue foreclosure proceedings against those who haven’t paid their back taxes. We’ve written letters to you and others in the past suggesting that you work out a payment plan with the town to avoid foreclosure, contact a non-profit organization (like Westchester Residential Opportunities) which has helped many take action steps to avoid foreclosure. Or, to sell your home.
The problem with foreclosure: once the town forecloses on a house you lose everything, the entire house. If a person owes the town $200,000 in back taxes and if the house is worth $400,000 the town gets the house. That is the law of the State of New York. So, it makes sense for those in danger of foreclosure to do everything you can to avoid foreclosure. You can lose everything! Even more than you owe.
The town is obligated to pursue foreclosure proceedings and move forward. However, many people on the list have been paying up or working out tax agreements and are being taken off the list of people in danger of foreclosure. The Town Attorney’s office has agreed to hold off the actually filing of the papers until the end of the year – giving you a little extra time to avoid losing your property.
I continue to be willing to meet with you and town staff to discuss action steps you could take to avoid foreclosure. Feel free to call me anytime. The town is required by law to collect back taxes. We cannot cancel the foreclosure process. We want to work with you.
Paul J. Feiner
May 21, 2015
WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO LOSE YOUR PROPERTY
TOWN INITIATING FORECLOSURE PROCEEDINGS TO COLLECT BACK TAXES
During the past year and a half I have written you a number of letters advising that the town is owed significant back taxes by some residents. We’ve offered to help you reach out to organizations that could provide you with advice so you could avoid losing your assets. Many people have taken advantage of our offer. They have sold their property or worked out payment agreements.
The town is required by law to collect the back taxes and will be filing a notice and petition with the courts within the next two weeks. I’m writing you this note because you may still have some time to avoid losing everything. Once the town forecloses on a property the property owner loses the entire house or property. For example, if you owe $50,000 and the house is worth $500,000 - the town gets to keep the entire house and you get nothing.
As a result, it makes sense to sell the property or obtain other financing before the town acquires it. Three months following the town’s filing of the notice and petition a Judge will have the ability to take action – turning over the property to the town. There is still about three months left before your property could be taken away.
Please contact Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes at 989-1550 to discuss. I am also more than happy to help you reach out to nonprofit organizations that might be able to help you avoid the worst case scenario.
Paul J. Feiner
Cc: Town Council Members
Tim Lewis, Town Attorney
Michael Pflaum, Attorney
Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes
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