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Unpaid taxes put Northumberland in the red


January 13, 2010
NORTHUMBERLAND —Northumberland faces a severe cash flow problem from people not paying taxes.

It was announced at Monday nights Selectmen's meeting that, as of last week, the town had about $411,000 sitting in its general fund. It also has about $98,000 in the surplus water account and $98,000 in the surplus sewer account, for a combined total of all three of about $600,000-610,000. In the first six months of 2010, however, the town owes the school district around $630, 500.

Over the past three years the number of unpaid taxes has steadily grown. In 2007 there were 34 people with $52,000 of unpaid taxes. In 2008 that number went up to 87 people with outstanding tax bills totaling $188,000 and in 2009 there were 320 people with $430,000 of unpaid taxes. In addition there are $74,000 worth of water and sewer bills from cycles one, two and three that have not been paid. Leaving the 2009 books short more than half a million dollars in revenue.

According to the selectmen the budgets aren't the problem, it's the lack of payment.

"The town folk voted in the budgets and they need to pay for it," said Selectmen Jim Tierney. A few solutions to alleviate the problem included refinancing a 1993 water bond from four to eight years, which would add interest, but save $45,000 for a quick fix. The Selectmen also said that only $20,000 or more is brought in a month by car registrations.

Two items that the town is voting on in March involve the bridge fund and the transfer station fund. If the town votes to put the money from those funds back into the general fund it will alleviate close to another $100,000.

The projection the Selectmen gave for the coming two years is that the town shouldn't have a problem getting TAN notes for the next twelve months. If, for the first six months of 2011, the town tax receipts stay at or get worse then 15 per cent of unpaid taxes the town would most likely have to file for bankruptcy.

"If anybody has some great ideas drop them off at the town office," said Mr. Tierney

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