Rockingham Selectboard discussed delinquent tax policy

The Hetty Green Motel north of Bellows Falls. Photo by Betsy Thurston.

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Town of Rockingham Selectboard met Tuesday, Oct. 2 and discussed the lack of policy for delinquent taxes and properties up for tax sale. Ray Massucco, Town Tax Attorney, suggested to the board they use a two-year policy before adding properties to a delinquent tax sale. The Selectboard voted for a two-year policy, $2,000 minimum in delinquent taxes.

In the past, Massucco mentioned, property owners were given four installments to pay delinquent taxes to the town. After the fourth payment was due and unpaid, the property would be considered delinquent and available for tax sale.

Massucco admitted with the fees generated on delinquency, it is easy for property owners to double their amount owed in one year. The protocol on delinquencies involves issuing two town notices and then a letter from the attorney. Stefan Golec and Gaetano Putignano agreed the board needed to take action and set the policy.

Massucco stated that “every year there should be a delinquent tax sale.” The last one was two years ago, and in 2013 there were three. Municipal manager Wendy Harrison suggested the updated policy and agreed to provide a list of properties meeting the established criteria at the next meeting.

Peter Golec inquired about the Hetty Green Motel just north of the village. It has been delinquent for ten years, and in bankruptcy for the last eight or nine years. Massucco stated the taxpayer was safe against all action due to the bankruptcy. The owner died earlier this year and the next of kin was not interested in the property.

Doreen Aldrich asked, “So where does that put us?”

Chair Susan Hammond, acknowledged the location made it challenging as it’s the entry point of the village. Stefan Golec was interested in exploring its potential value. Town Lister Camila Roberts mentioned the property was appraised three years ago and the center section was occupied and presentable at that time. The rest of the building was uninhabitable then, but it does have some residential potential.

Putignano wanted to make sure the town was not liable for the property and Massucco assured the board no one is currently responsible nor can anyone buy it without going through probate. The Board agreed the next step is to pursue zoning and accessibility of water and sewer. The assessed worth to the town will be measured before any decisions are made.Howdy, Shawntae Stillwell

The next Selectboard meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 26 in the Lower Theatre of the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6 p.m.

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