As the holidays draw near, Middletown is preparing for its annual tax sale, to be held 9:00 a.m. this Thursday, Dec. 27. To be sold are unpaid property taxes for 2012, including those for the 4th quarter, and sewer fees owed for the fiscal year ending June 30th.
Notice of the tax sale was published in the Dec. 7th edition of the Two River Times. I was told by the Township that the notice would be published again in TRT’s Dec. 21st edition, but I don’t see that online yet, so can’t confirm. The tax sale list is the same in both editions, reflecting payments made prior to Nov. 26 only. The list can be accessed temporarily here. The archive link will expire around the end of this month.
I first provided notice of the sale on Patch on Dec. 12th. Because there are a large number of properties on the list and many owners may not be aware they have unpaid balances, I felt it was important to get last minute word out to as many people as possible.
Many of the amounts owed are small, a few hundred or less that may be only accrued interest in some cases. I know a woman who owed just $50 or so a year or two back and she didn’t know until she saw her name in the paper. She was embarrassed, but more relieved to have found out in time to escape a lien on her home.
A likely reason for the large number of delinquencies is that taxes for the current quarter are included in the sale. Unfortunately, the quick sale may catch many people by surprise.
Both Middletown Township and TOMSA moved to an “accelerated” December sale schedule in 2010. Prior to that, sales were in April, including April 2010, and included amounts owed for the prior calendar year. The transition to a December sale schedule in 2010 provided a one-time revenue boost for that year. While TOMSA included only the first two quarters of 2010 in the Dec. 2010 sale, the Township chose to include all 4 quarters of 2010 to maximize revenue that year. As a result, the Township had to continue that cycle – selling 1st through 4th quarter unpaid taxes at the end of the tax year – in order to include a full year’s worth of taxes in subsequent December sales.
A review of public notices in the APP over the last few weeks shows that numerous other municipalities hold tax sales in December but many aren’t including the 4th quarter, or even the 3rd, in their sales. Matawan is one example – their sale this year includes taxes through the 3rd quarter only. I think that approach is far more reasonable and I would like to see Middletown change its current practice.
There are some barriers, though. One, in the same way that the transition to an “accelerated” sale schedule in 2010 produced extra revenue that year, “decelerating” could produce a shortfall and might only be feasible in a year when there is sufficient surplus to make up the difference.
Another barrier has to do with how the municipal budget is developed, per discussion at the Nov. 14th meeting of the Township Committee. See my Dec. 12th post for an explanation.
I hope you find this information helpful. May you all have a happy and healthy holiday.