HOFFMAN —With 160 delinquent tax bills — some stretching back as far as 2002 — the town of Hoffman is looking to collect on what it’s owed.
Maggie Bethea, the town’s clerk, said the total amount owed as of May came out to be $45, 209.52.
The town council voted Monday to hire Mark Bardill of Zacchaeus Legal Services to begin a tax foreclosure program in an effort to bring in the uncollected revenue.
In a presentation to the town board, Bardill explained how his Trenton-based firm has helped other municipalities across the state, ranging from Tyrrell County — one of the state’s poorest counties — to the larger and more properous Forsyth County.
When Bardill met with the town of Dobbins Heights in 2014 to set up the same agreement, his firm had collected in excess of $200,000 for Richmond County — another client of Zacchaeus.
During the slideshow presentation, Bardill said Hoffman would be able to avoid increasing the tax rate “by collecting taxes already on the books.”
Some property owners who owe taxes to Hoffman also owe taxes to the county. Bardill suggested the town should work together with the county to save legal fees on those cases.
Bardill told the council that foreclosure programs in other towns and counties usually result in few people being displaced, and most properties that are foreclosed on are abandoned.
Stressing due process laws, Bardill added that taxpayers would receive plenty of notice and an opportunity to settle before they become part of the foreclosure program.
“We can’t take anyone’s property without giving them notice and an opportunity to respond,” he said. “Our goal is not to sell the property, just to collect delinquent revenue.”
Bardill said those delinquent would have to pay their back taxes, court costs and attorney fees to keep their property should foreclosure proceedings begin.
A contract with Zacchaeus Legal Services is expected to be drawn up in the next three to four weeks, according to Bethea, who said, “We’re just waiting for the contract, and then we’ll go from there.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.