Controller gives update on AUD, foreclosure progress

According to Controller Matthew Agresta, work on the 2012-2013 Annual Update Document (AUD) report is complete and his department is now working through minor errors having to do with compatibility with NY State’s category codes. Agresta said at Tuesday’s meeting with the Common Council, that he hoped to have the report officially submitted in another week’s time. Agresta also said that work on the 2013-2014 report has already begun and hopes the process will go even quicker than the previous one. Once the 2013-2014 report is filed, the city will be up-to-date with its required financial reporting to NY State.

Agresta said that city residents are continuing to respond to delinquent tax notices sent out in January. He said that approximately $153,000 has been collected so far since the letters went out.

After consulting with at least one NY State official, Agresta said the idea of forgiving the fees for delinquent back taxes doesn’t seem feasible. He said that while NY State law allows the forgiveness of fees, the city would have to justify how the action would be in the “best interest of the taxing district.”

“Given our situation I can’t see how we can make that argument and have it hold up, that it would be in the city’s best interest to forgo millions of dollars in revenue,” said Agresta.

He also pointed out that forgiving the fees for someone who had been delinquent for many years would not be fair to those who pay their taxes on time every quarter.

“I can’t see a reasonable justification that we can provide to the state that would allow us to waive the interest and penalties for the entire [foreclosure] list,” said Agresta.

Agresta also said he had located a fully insured company who could “start tomorrow” to complete the hundreds of title searches that are required before a foreclosure and auction could proceed. He said that the cost would be $85 per title. He said that the estimated time to complete the searches would be 12-16 weeks.

Alderman Ron Barone said he would like to see credit and debit cards accepted at City Hall for payment of taxes and fees. Both Agresta and City Clerk Susan Alibozek agreed that would be a good idea. Agresta pointed out that city residents can already pay taxes via credit or debit card online.

Later in the meeting, the council approved a $60,000 transfer from the city’s contingency fund to cover the cost of title searches and advertising the foreclosures.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.