>Middletown Refuses To Take Residents Money; Taxpayers Told Of Looming Tax Sales

>Does anyone have an extra $1500 cash or more lying around the house; if you do can you lend it to a neighbor? According to Middletown resident Dora Crisafulli, she was turned away from the Middletown Tax office yesterday (November 29, 2010) when she showed up to pay her property taxes. As it turned out she wasn’t the only one turned away, others who showed up Monday were also turned away.

Mrs. Crisafulli stated that when she arrived at the Middletown tax office Monday morning, there were several people in front of her, all waiting to pay their tax bills before the end of the month. Each resident was told that their payments were late and that their tax bill should have been paid by November 10th (since payments dates were adjusted a few months back to reflect the new bill payment schedule that require taxes due on the 1st of the month), each were told that only cash or certified cashier checks would be accepted as payment. No personal checks, credit or debit cards would be taken. According to Crisafulli, it seemed that a near riot would ensue as people were being turned away.

One elderly woman left the tax office in near tears when she couldn’t pay half of her tax bill by personal check with the remaining balance placed on a credit card. Others in line became angry and agitated at the situation, no one could understand the reasoning behind the sudden change in payment methods and they questioned who had that kind of money lying around?

When it was Crisafulli’s turn at the window she demanded to speak to the office supervisor (Crisafulli couldn’t remember her name) when she was not allowed to use her debit card to pay her taxes and found out that a late charge of nearly $60 was being added to her bill. She was told by the clerk that the supervisor was currently busy but could speak to her shortly. Mrs. Crisafulli let the clerk know that she expected to talk to the supervisor after she returned from the bank with cash.
Upon her return from the bank, Mrs. Crisafulli asked to speak to the office supervisor before paying her tax bill. When the supervisor came out to speak with Mrs. Crisafulli, she was probably sorry that she had, Crisafulli gave her an earful.

Crisafulli stated to me that she had asked why she and others had to pay by cash or by certified cashier’s check (which would have been subjected to an additional $15 bank service fee) when previous to this date other forms of payment were acceptable? She also questioned why she was charged and added misc. interest charge of $51.54 over the normal late interest fee of $8.04, which she had been paying since the Township change its payment cycle a few months earlier (Crisafulli stated that she was on a fixed income and doesn’t always have money available on the first of the month). Previously to the change, she had never been late with a tax payment and she would have paid her tax bill on Friday but the office was closed the day after Thanksgiving.

The woman that Mrs. Crisafulli spoke to informed her that the reason for the changes to the payment policy, was due to the upcoming Tax Lien sale that was being scheduled for late December (Crisafulli stated 12/28 but more than likely in January).

Anyone late in their tax payments, were being required to pay by either cash or certified check and the additional interest charge was for the purpose of processing the paper work for the upcoming tax sale and to place notices in the area newspapers.

After hearing this Mrs. Crisafulli was shaken and upset, she wanted to know how in the world Middletown could place a lien on her house and put it up for sale without her notice or her being delinquent in her tax payments; she never was and had ever been habitually late paying her taxes. She was mortified that her name would appear in the newspapers and that her neighbors would think that she was a tax cheat.

Only after the supervisor stated that she would check on Mrs. Crisafulli’s status, to see if her house was going to be included in the sale and notices, did Crisafulli make her cash payment and request a receipt.

Two hours later the phone rang in the Crisafulli’s house and the voice at the other end of the phone notified Mrs. Crisafulli that she was safe; her house wasn’t being subjected to the tax sale and no notice would be placed in the local newspapers.

Needless to say she was relieved to hear the news, but what about the others, who have been turned away over these last couple of days, have they been told of the upcoming tax sale and whether or not their homes would be included?

This is disturbing; I can’t imagine that Middletown would be so hard up for tax revenues that it would refuse to take late tax payments from residents unless those payments were made with cash. It is paramount to extortion, either you pay us in cash or we will but a lien on your house and then put it up for sale. How can this be possible, is this just a simple case of misunderstanding or is there something more to it? I have never heard of such a thing happening unless a property owner’s taxes were considered habitually past due. I also don’t understand why residents can’t pay with a credit card, the service fees that the banks charge the township are being passed onto the taxpayers, and the Township no longer absorbs those transaction fees. It just makes no sense.

Someone needs to question this before unknowing residents are hit with tax liens against their properties and find themselves in a court fight to keep their homes or businesses.

I placed a phone call to Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes last night to ask if he had known what was happing at the tax office. He stated that he did not but would contact Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, to inquire about it and get back to me.

29 Comments

Filed under Middletown, property taxes, Sean F. Byrnes, tax liens, tax sale

29 responses to “>Middletown Refuses To Take Residents Money; Taxpayers Told Of Looming Tax Sales

  1. >It's too bad people like Mrs. Crisafulli are not computer savy otherwise she could have used her credit/debit card and paid online: http://www.middletownnj.org/tax/tax-pay-guide.aspThere is nothing on the township website regarding cash only patyments: http://www.middletownnj.org/tax/tax-pay-info.aspThere is an announcement regarding credit card payments, but nothing about not being able to make the November payment with a credit card: http://www.middletownnj.org/html/DepImportantNoticeDetails.asp?NoticeIDReq=cdf6e796-6dff-4e4e-9a1b-b2c3f93582f7&DeptIDNotice=16Why is there a double standard for those that don't have the convenience of a mortgage company to pay their taxes. These people should be rewarded for paying off their mortgage. Whoever made this cash only decision sohuld be fired, if not publically reprimanded severely.

  2. >Anon 8:45,Thanks for the the additional info. Have you been able to find anything on the Township website concerning the upcoming tax lien sale? I think that would be of importance to many residents.

  3. >If you look at http://www.middletownnj.org/tax/tax-pay-info.aspthe last sentence states: Any appropriate municipal charges remaining unpaid after November 11th of the tax year will be subject to tax sale.Nothing about when it will take place.

  4. >The administration in this town repeatedly skirts on the edges of what is legal…..currently performing like the gestapo…where does it end???THERE IS NO RESPECT FOR THE CITIZENS OF THIS TOWNSHIP… NONE !!!Maybe this will get the gullible awake and changes in leadership will finally take place.

  5. >I'm surprised Committeeman Byrnes was unable to answer your questions, Mike. After all, he approved the resolution (10-203) authorizing an accelerated tax sale at the August 2, 2010 meeting. If he didn't fully understand the implications of an accelerated tax sale, perhaps he should have spoken to the CFO and/or Tax Collector before he approved that resolution.

  6. >Thank You Gerry,Don't you have other more important things to do with your time than leave anonymous comments on blogs?Resolution 10-203 is extremely vague and say nothing about those who happen to make 1 late payment being subject to a tax sale.I am sure that was not the spirit or intent of the resolution when voted on. It also makes no statement about people not being able to pay their taxes with a personal check, credit or debit card.Instead of trying to one up a fellow committeeman maybe you should have done a better job at informing residents of these changes, particularly about payment methods. There is no mention of anywhere about refusing to take by any other method other than cash or certified check!

  7. >Doesn't this hack have a job in Trenton during the business day?What was he doing reading your blog at 2:07 in the afternoon,Mike?Not very promising in fostering any improvement in the state situation. Guess the Governor just wants a warm body in a chair….great if you can earn a paycheck blog reading and posting ,isn't it ?Do I detect a sick conscience from this poor excuse for humanity that he constantly checks your blog,Mike.to see what we all think of him….NOT MUCH !!

  8. >Anon 8:19,To be fair,I don't know if it was Gerry who left the comment @ 2:07. It could have just as easily been Tony Fiore or Brian Nelson,but I have no doubt that it came from someone connected to the Township.

  9. >No Mike, I'm not Gerry. I'm not even one of the "Cheerleaders". I'm just a taxpayer who thinks the committee and administration should think more carefully about the repercussions caused by the changes they approve. I personally believe the double whammy of a shortened grace period coupled with an accelerated tax sale was a bit much to force on an already angry public.

  10. >Anon 8:38 OK if you say so, but if you were so concerned, why not say so earlier when you may have suspected that there would be a problem?As stated before, the resolution is vague with little details. How it evolved into what it has become is the question that needs to be answered.

  11. >Mike, the Powers That Be don't normally listen to the Little Guys in this town. My concerns would've gone unheeded. As you know, they don't take too kindly to suggestions from taxpayers.

  12. >Anon 9:02,I think that is a copped out answer. There were people that would have listened to your concerns if you would have reached out. I for one would have listened and I know that Byrnes would have listened if those concerns were voiced.Very often resolutions like thisare kept vague so that others away from the Township committee can implement them as they choose. Refusing to take credit card payments and demanding cash payments are an example of this.

  13. >So, Gerry uses the reverse call system to announce FEMA loan application deadlines, Recycle2 Program information, etc. Yet, with something as important as keeping the public taxpayer informed about truly critical life imacting changes, Dr. Scharfenberger fails to use the emergency phone system to inform Middletown residents. Could it be because letting people know was good government and bad politics?

  14. >Who ever said government by this group was ever government for the people of this town?Get a grip,this group could not care LESS about the people they are SUPPOSED to represent !!

  15. >Maybe this import from Hudson County now serving as CFO is responsible for this nonsense…..wanna check that out ??A possibility,huh? Strong arm and ignorant policies imposed on a very angry population in this township….are they losing it ??

  16. >Gee…I should be happy with my all republican township committee here in Colts Neck. All they do is make up jobs to give to their friends. Standard practice in most towns. You guys are run by an actual group of thugs trying to beat the little people down with a huge stick. Geesh.

  17. Jay

    >I love this rhetoric about "an already angry population…" LOLWhich "angry population" is that exactly?The one that came out to reject the school budget and the incumbents on the school board, or the one that came out to sweep the lone Democrat on the Township Committee out of office and sweep the Mayor back in?I find it amusing when people mistake their own anger and that of a handful of friends as being representative of the population of the town – especially when voting results indicate otherwise…

  18. >Delude yourself "JAY" ole boy……nothing like a hypocrite of a politician with a loose screw or so now is there? If it were not for the national political climate ….you'd be out on the balls of your *** ! Explain all of your lying if you are so sure of yourself ..

  19. >Hey Jay – you ask which angry population? Are you kidding, if you'd hung out waiting to pay taxes lately you'd hear plenty of anger from the population standing in that line. From what I've heard, people are PISSED.

  20. >Hey Jay…. are you so stupid you don't know enough to come in out of the rain ??

  21. Jay

    >With all due respect to their feelings, the people "hanging out to pay their taxes" were very few in number.I imagine they were upset, but then again, perhaps they should have paid attention when they were told when their taxes were due 6 months prior.This move was made in order to SAVE tax dollars, to keep the tax rate as low as possible, and for no other reason.These "angry citizens" will have continued chances to participate in town government at meetings and at the next election in the Fall.But again, they are few. The majority seem pretty content with government just the way it is (as evidence by the voting in the recent election)>Falling back on insults when your arguments have been shown to be weak doesn't make you (or your arguments) look any better. Come back when you have some facts or a majority (or even a sizable minority) on your side.

  22. >"JAY" YOU ARE A DELUSIONAL LOOSE WINGNUT!!!An informed electorate, not the ignorant that voted down party lines protesting the national health care bill, will send you to the showers yet….so don't count your chickens just yet. Maybe you should heed the warning,A**H*** !!We know liars when we see them !!

  23. Jay

    >First off Anon 6:41, I think you have me confused with someone else.I'm just a citizen of Middletown – not an elected official. Unless I decide to run for something someday, the voters aren't going to have a chance to send me "to the showers…"As to my being an A** H***… Well, I can understand how your anger at being so unquestionably marginalized would cause you to believe that someone like me, someone pointing out the truth, was an A** H***, but don't you think it's kind of juvenile to put it in writing instead of just thinking it?You say that I have a screw loose?Who is it that is posting anonymous insults on an internet blog?Hopefully this blog will be a place where we can discuss issues of importance to Middletown. Hopefully it won't degenerate into a place where anonymous posters do nothing but hurl insults at people who disagree with them, but who want to have a rational debate.And yeah, I know, for wanting to actually discuss and debate things, I'm an A** H***, right?:)

  24. >11;23….You are only interested in your own point of view…..not everyone agrees with you.There is no respect of the citizens of this town.Middletown's current administration leaves much to be desired. If you don't like criticism..so be it….change the tactics.The American Civil Liberties Union would be a welcome participant in reviewing current government here.

  25. >Read today's Asbury Park Press'front page article "Breaking Point..personal tales of New Jersey's tax crush" and the details of tax liens and foreclosure suits.Is this looming practice of the local government in town a prelude to similar problems ? Is it a practice to help enrich the lawyers in this town? Just what is really going on ?Since we have been lied to so often,it is intelligent and only reasonable to question and mistrust our public officials. They deserve scrutiny.Under current economic conditions, is it just another effort to intimidate the citizenry of this township with this heavy handed nonsense that has become so prevalent in the last six years??Respect is earned….not demanded !

  26. >If it were not for the national political climate ….you'd be out on the balls of your *** ! Really? If I remember correctly, in 2008, when the national climate was exactly opposite, the Middletown Democrats lost about as big as they lost this year.And is it me, or do people here FEEL ENTITLED to be late on their payments??? How come 99% of the homeowners manage to pay their tax bills on time, and there's always that 1% who shouts that they have the right to be late???

  27. >Chris,As a new comer to Middletown politics, who has been kissing and sucking up to Gerry and the rest of the Middletown GOP for the past couple of years, I do not find it strange at all that you would make such a comment. First of in 2008 Middletown nearly 90% of the voters in Middletown turned out to vote, overwhelmingly they voted against Barack Obama and all democrats down the line in Middletown lost. It had nothing to do with our candidate.Second, no one feels entitled to pay their taxes late. There was a change in policy that the town did a poor job in communicating to the public. The township website is still not correct with some of the information that is posted.It's about cutting people a little slack when they never had a problem before, intimidating them into believing that their homes would be placed into lien and put up for sale is where the problem lays.

  28. >Mike,Could not agree with you more.This hack we have for a mayor could not use the reverse telephone system for such important information but he could use it to promote himself politically and we pay for this.In 2008 he was persecuting the Latinos (the VERY FEW we have ) in this town and always seems to find some absurd issue trying to promote himself.This township has become like the "strong arm" counties of North Jersey. No wonder with all the imports from north of the Driscoll Bridge, God help us all. Carton and Scharfenberger are only interested in only one thing, themselves…not the citizens of this community. Politics at it's very worst. Lie,cheat,character assassination,whatever it takes to win….not integrity,honesty or class….not anymore.

  29. >People feel entitled to "good government" regardless of party affiliation. That's what democracy is about.THAT"S SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN MISSING IN MIDDLETOWN FOR OVER SIX YEARS !!

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