City Treasurer Spencer Coggs announced that the Milwaukee Common Council has, this week, passed legislation implementing a proposal made by his office to allow taxpayers to pay both their property taxes and “special charges” together on a ten-month, interest free installment plan.
This ordinance would be implemented with the December 2013 property tax bills and would have the effect of keeping many property owners from going delinquent. Alderman Robert Bauman presented the plan to the Judiciary and Legislation Committee and to the full Council on behalf of his Special Joint Committee on the Redevelopment of Abandoned and Foreclosed Homes.
Treasurer Coggs, a member of the special committee, had testified that he had received many calls from homeowners who were told that they had to pay the special charges in full before they could pay their property taxes on the installment plan. “Delinquency on an owner’s property taxes is the first step on the road to foreclosure.
We’re trying to prevent this urban tragedy,” said Treasurer Coggs. Alderman Bauman stated, “At least forty percent of residential properties foreclosed upon by the city for delinquent taxes in recent years have been owner occupied. I would rather see as many residents as possible stay in their homes.”
Special charges that may appear on the property tax bill include, but are not limited to, building board-up charges, building nuisance abatement charges, snow removal charges, weed removal charges, delinquent sewer charges, and building re-inspection fees.
Treasurer Coggs stated, “The problem for many is that the dollar amount of special charges often equals or surpasses the actual property tax due. Since, in the past, the special charges had to be paid in full with the first property tax installment, allowing for the special charges to now also be paid on the installment plan should reduce the number of taxpayers that go tax delinquent.”
In his campaign for City Treasurer, Treasurer Coggs stated he wanted to stem the rampant tide of increasing tax foreclosures. The implementation of his office’s proposal by the Common Council this week, which will allow special charges to be spread out on the installment plan, is a good first step in that direction.
The Special Joint Committee on the Redevelopment of Abandoned and Foreclosed Homes was established in 2008. Upon his election as City Treasurer, Coggs joined the committee. Part of its mission is to maximize resources available to address the problems of vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed properties, and to utilize available resources in the most effective and efficient manner. The committee has maintained a monthly meeting schedule at City Hall. Besides Ald. Bauman and Treasurer Coggs, membership includes Stephen L. Chernof, an attorney with the Godfrey and Kahn Law Firm, Ald. Joe Davis, Ald. Willie Hines, Jr., Antonio Perez, City of Milwaukee Housing Authority Executive Director, and Maria Prioletta, Department of City Development Redevelopment and Special Project Manager.