Chatham gets tough with no-pay property owners

CHATHAM–Village Mayor John Howe told the board at their meeting Monday that the village has recovered about $59,000 in unpaid taxes. He said some of the late tax payments were from as far back as 2008.

The mayor said at the June 10 meeting that the village had recently hired attorney Mitchell Khosrova to collect the over $80,000 in unpaid taxes. He said some of that money was from unpaid water and sewer bills that have been re-levied as property taxes.

One of the properties where the taxes were paid was the Zeissett property on Hudson Avenue (Route 66). In 2017 the board had been moving forward with foreclosing on the property which was in major disrepair. Mayor Howe said that the owners have now paid about $14,000 in back taxes so the village cannot foreclose on the property. Board members said the house is boarded up.

Mayor Howe pointed out that the village had been dealing with the taxes on that house for many years. “Mitch is doing a great job,” the mayor said.

But he said that there are residents who asked if they could make partial payments. Mr. Howe said he didn’t want the village to allow that. The two other board members at the meeting, Lenore Packet and Jaimee Boehme, agreed. Ms. Packet pointed out that taking partial payments would be more work for the clerk’s office.

“Right now we’ve turned around a big nut here,” said Mr. Howe. He said many people claimed they couldn’t pay the full amount when the village reached out to them but they somehow found the money.

“Some people are trying to game us,” he said.

The mayor said the board would pass a resolution at the next meeting saying the village would only accept full payment of late taxes. According the village clerk, there is no wording in the village laws about taking full or partial payments.

Also at the June 10 meeting:

• The board approved the bid of $20,466.38 for paving and replacing of the water main on Washington Avenue. Mayor Howe said sidewalk repairs were not included in the bid but the village has not said no to replacing the sidewalks while the road is under construction. Referring to sidewalks throughout the village, Trustee Packet said, “The sidewalks need to be taken care of by the municipality”

• The board thanked the Department of Public Works for its work on trash pick-up day earlier this month. Phil Genovese, from the DPW, said this was the largest pick-up day yet, with 200 yards of compacted refuse and more than 80 hours of work for the crew. Mayor Howe said the board needed to look into changing the future trash days–possibly having a dumpster at the water and sewer plant where residents could bring their trash. “We’re going to get out of the garbage business,” he said

• Mr. Genovese also reported that work on the water tank at the reservoir is almost complete and the new water storage tank should be ready for use by late June

• The Fire Department announced that on June 8, a group of Chatham firefighters along with Mayor Howe attended the American Legion District meeting in Albany, where four members were awarded the Department of New York District 3 Firefighting Unit of the Year. “This unit and the CFD are nominated and have had their names submitted to receive the New York State Firefighting Unit award,” the department report reads. The state award will be announced next month. “It was a nice honor,” said Mayor Howe

• Police Chief Peter Volkmann reported that the village police would sign a contract with the county Agricultural Society to have officers provide fairground security between midnight and 5 a.m. during the county fair. Mayor Howe said that the village could not charge a fee for police services when those services are expected but he said this assignment is strictly for security when the fair is closed

• Stephen Piazza asked about the food truck that is still parking on Main Street even though the board said at a meeting a few months ago village law does not allow a vendor to stop for more than 10 minutes. Mayor Howe and Chief Volkmann confirmed that the truck owner had received two tickets from the village. Mayor Howe said he hoped the courts would handle the issue, but the case has been postponed.

Chief Volkmann said that there were other issues now and that “the DA has an interest in the case.” Mr. Piazza says the truck leaks oil and “it stinks.” Mayor Howe told Mr. Piazza, “I hear what you’re saying,” and said the village would “ratchet up” enforcement.

The next board meeting will be Monday, July 8 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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