Council rejects most of plan to help those behind on taxes
City owed $40 million by 4,700 taxpayers who are behind in payment
Windsor city council rejected most of the recommendations a citizen committee put forward to help people falling behind on their property tax payments.
The ideas were presented to council Monday night.
The group started working on ways to assist hardship cases last summer.
Among its recommendations were reducing the penalty and interest charges for people struggling to pay their taxes.
Angela Fitzpatrick is a single mother in that situation.
"I am a responsible homeowner who wants to contribute to the tax system. As the system works, my debt continues to get deeper, despite the intent of the program to bring my taxes current," she said.
The informal committee, which met through the summer and fall, suggests:
- Early intervention.
- Establishment of a community tax assistance program.
- Changing the due date for tax payments.
- A tax relief program.
- The broadening of the parameters of the tax repayment program and stoppage of interest and penalties.
Council has agreed to early intervention by sending out brochures to let people know about the assistance the city already offers. The other options were rejected.
Committee member Howard Pawley questioned why people doing their best to pay their taxes are charged the same as those who are not even making an effort:
"Is this an effective incentive?" he asked. "Suspending interest, late penalties provides a larger incentive for those participating in the program than by imposing penalties."
Coun. Allan Halberstadt is disappointed the group's ideas did not get more support.
"I think it's very disappointing especially for the volunteer committee that I know spent hours and hours on it, and nobody recompensed them for anything," he said.
As of two years ago, the city had 4,700 tax accounts in arrears. The outstanding balance topped $40 million.