Tilton taking delinquent taxpayers to court
June 09, 2010
TILTON — For the first time, Tilton is taking delinquent taxpayers to small claims court.
Town Clerk/Tax Collector Cindy Reinartz has taken two non-paying taxpayers to court in recent months.
George Hast, who owns Sherryland Park, hadn't been paying taxes for years on abandoned trailers in the mobile home park, Reinartz said. After two years and a day, the town has a right to take them, but also has the right not to.
"(Hast) figured the town should take them," Reinartz said.
Boards of Selectmen over the years opted not to seize the trailers, but Hast didn't feel he should have to pay taxes on them because they were in disrepair and not rentable, Reinartz said.
"He just didn't want to pay his taxes," she said.
Reinartz said Hast was given several warnings before she took him to Franklin District Court. He represented himself, and Reinartz said he was surprised that she would be representing the town.
"I said, 'George, this is a slam dunk,'" she said.
Reinartz filed to get back taxes for 2006, 2007 and 2008, and she won each of the three decisions, getting the taxes plus interest for a total of $5,252. There is a $70 fee to file a claim with the Franklin District Court.
Hast lives in Providence, R.I., and also owns a house on School Street, Reinartz said. She said he has stayed current with tax payments on that house.
Hast was the second person Reinartz took to small claims court. Back in February she filed a claim against Brian Locke, who hadn't paid taxes on his trailer for two years, she said. In that case, Reinartz won the town $2,083. Reinartz said Locke is now making periodic payments.
"This pretty much sets a precedent for town clerks/tax collectors throughout the state," Selectman Katherine Dawson said at a recent meeting. "(Cindy) deserves huge kudos for that."
Reinartz said she did a lot of research pre-court, and could spend hours at court waiting to be called. Still, she said, the time spent is worthwhile, because it's taking some of the burden off of the taxpayers who do pay their taxes.
"I'm elected to do the best I can – this is collecting taxes," Reinartz said. "I'm collecting as much taxes as I can."
Reinartz also said that for taxpayers who are willing to work with her, it doesn't have to come to this, "even if they give me $20 a month to catch up before it gets to this."
Reinartz is in the process of filing another claim against another trailer owner who has an outstanding tax bill. She said property owners in this situation receive several letters and lien notices.
"There's fair warning," she said. "It's not like it's a big surprise."