2 1Rockland County has collected 81 percent of delinquent taxes on non-residential properties since beginning a new, expedited enforcement campaign in the spring.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced the latest results of the campaign today while standing outside of a property at 471 Kings Highway on Valley Cottage that tops the list of remaining scofflaws with an unpaid tax bill of $79,822.26.

The county has begun foreclosure proceedings on the Kings Highway property and 29 other non-residential parcels.

“Collecting 81 percent is what we call a rousing success,” Day said. “We sent a message to these property owners that they either have to pay up or they will lose their property. Apparently, they got the message. No one likes to pay taxes. We get it. But when someone doesn’t pay their share of property taxes, someone else’s tax bill goes up.”

The new enforcement campaign calls for the county to take action on non-residential properties that are two years behind on its taxes. Previously, the county waited three years before starting to foreclosure on these commercial and vacant parcels. The amounts are for all taxes owed by a piece of property – county, town, village, school, because the county is responsible for paying all unpaid taxes.

So far the county has collected $2.4 million of the $2.9 million owed by owners of non-residential properties.

A total of 124 properties were identified by the county as owing taxes. Owners of all but 34 of those properties either paid their bill in full or entered into installment plans with the county to pay up.

The county has started foreclosure proceedings in state Supreme Court in Rockland on 29 properties. Numerous attempts were made to reach out to the property owners to give them an opportunity to pay the bill or create an installment plan.

Five additional properties that owe taxes are not on the foreclosure list because they have environmental or other issues that could prove costly to taxpayers.

“We never want to foreclose on anyone’s property,” Day said. “We want the taxes that are owed to the county.”

Rockland County relies on property tax revenue to fund public health programs, highway maintenance, fire and emergency response equipment and many other critical services residents and business owners depend on. Tax revenue is Rockland’s largest source of income to fund these programs. Taxes are also crucial to school districts as well as towns and villages.

The county will sell the foreclosed properties. Several parcels of land have been identified as possibly being suitable for open space.

By the numbers:

Total delinquent taxes when action started: $2,952,016

Total paid or in installment plans: $2,406,276 (81%)

Total being foreclosed: $378,756 (13%)

Not being foreclosed: $166,983 (6%)

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