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Monday, December 15, 2014

Are Vermont Delinquent Property Tax Procedures Uniform? Fair? Constitutional?

some weeks i cannot go a step farther without trying again, to reform some injustice, to right a wrong, a heaviness in my heart i feel
as someone may fall victim to a tax sale...anxiety triggers my memories,
so i wrote this last monday and emailed it,

To: Selectboard of Monkton, Vermont,
From: Mary Gerdt
Pardon me for sending a string of emails
but within this group of emails is my argument for Monkton Delinquent Property Tax Reform.
These sales are not structured as to a specific date each year.
For instance, our property was targeted at 9 months.
I have never received information I asked for in 2007 like how was I contacted. ( I was not).
When I read the minutes, there is very little info there. Anything that goes in the pay to view newspaper should be in the online minutes.
I never saw my properties were for sale. I was never noticed as a female co- landowner.
I have never been successful at attempting to get the Monkton Selectboard to change the policy, to make it kinder, fairer. John Phillips told me the policy could not be changed.
I question the constitutionality of delinquent tax sales.
Some towns have None. Hinesburg is one.
The reason I bring this up is I feel like these tax sales are too quick, hostile and in our case,
creates a sense of fear.
Our certified card to prove we sent the taxes to the town was returned unsigned, unstamped.
Whether you as a selectboard choose to listen to me or not, I am compelled to speak up again, as I have done since this town tried to take my property.
Having a test at the hospital a tech told me about my neighbor Matera who lost his property to a sale.
A selectman bought it. Not even a ripple on the beaver pond.
Mary Gerdt,
Monkton, Vermont

From: Gerdt, Mary
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 1:48 PM
To: 'David Sharpe'
Subject: RE: I left you a message about property tax penalties and reform
Thank you for responding and for trying to change the laws.
I feel the way the law is written and carried out is unconstitutional.
There is no one for me to complain to.
There is no board that I can speak to.
The town has a mostly male board of abatement that denied all of my protests.
This is the way it always has been.
John Phillips told me the rules will not change.
There is so much more to this particular situation which is why I stated blogging.
People wanted what I and my husband own.
I want to see the constitution followed. Due process, right to abatement offered before sale.
I want to see consequences to the town when they do not follow this.
I want my grandchildren to own land without encumbrances like fees, interests and penalties. Oh yes, and fear someone will take it.
The taxes are too high and are not equalized across different towns.
The townspeople or town lawyer should not be the ones deciding whose property is sold.
No property should be sold at all.
How my life would have been different had Rod Burritt knocked on my door and said, Mary, the taxes are late, are you OK?
Instead, I discovered a month afterwards, that my husband was forced to take an early withdrawal to pay taxes, penalties, etc under duress from an account I had earmarked for my inevitable disability so our mortgage would be paid if I cannot work.
That is when we had to take out another $5,000 or so to pay the next year.
The treasurer made a snotty comment about it was from an annuity account.
As if we could pay but just were refusing.
We pay our way and have suffered shame and hardships.
Thanks for listening.
Mary Gerdt

From: David Sharpe []
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 12:26 PM
To: Gerdt, Mary
Subject: Re: I left you a message about property tax penalties and reform
Hi Mary,
Thank you for your note, I am very sympathetic with your situation. In fact, I have co-sponsored legislation to reduce the amount that a community could impose for a penalty, that bill did not get out of committee will not pass this year.
If you add together the 8% penalty and the 1.5% interest per month a taxpayer could pay as much as 23% additional tax in the first year, not to mention all the fees and expense if the property goes to tax sale. It is WAY TOO HIGH!
The legislature did respond to the concern I and others put forth to allow communities to set a rate lower than 8%, unfortunately few have. I would suggest you get a petition or other pressure to the Monkton selectboard to put it on the ballot for next town meeting.
Representative Dave Sharpe
1209 Meehan Road
Bristol, Vermont 05443
home - 802-453-2754
cell - 802-989-6427

>>> "Gerdt, Mary" 3/29/2011 8:53 AM >>>
Hello Dave,
I am at work and read your synopsis in the Monkton paper.
Please consider this another plea to reform the delinquent property tax laws.
We were the victim of a close encounter tax sale after being 9 months late paying statewide locally administered property taxes to Monkton.
I was never notified as the woman landowner. My husband sheltered me from this mean spirited move by the town of Monkton.
We owed $6500 for 1 year and had to pay 15% to the town’s attorney ($1,000), 8 % to the tax collector ($500) who hates us, interest and paid for the add I have never seen.
Our property was nearly sold 1 month before the next annual taxes of $6500 came due.
We came up with the money to keep our poor 4th generation family farm.
We go without, cannot fix our house or improve our property. We both struggle with getting older, health issues and less money.
Much more on my blog which is easy to find. Search for my name.
Alternately, if you feel I am hysterical or otherwise contrary to your ideals,
Just ignore.
My fight is as strong as the day I found out my property worth $300,000 was nearly sold to the highest bidder, my name was published in the shame section of the paper which I do not read, others knew my property would be sold and I had no idea.
Everyone wants to blame my husband. I love him and understand he was just trying to protect me as a good husband would.
He paid one day before the sale.
What if we were gay? Who would the town have told? The town said they were OK just telling the husband of 2 landowners/taxpayers.
I want to see the whole law reviewed. The attorney decided which properties would be sold based on value.
Percentages of values have become inflated with the growth of taxes.
Back to work at my day job, I want to impress you with my feelings of frustration.
I do not know for how long, but we are living in Vermont one more year since we paid the taxes again in November.
Is that what my grandchildren will say?
Mary Gerdt  

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