Increased efforts collect millions in unpaid utility bills

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The city’s get-tough stance on delinquent water and sewer service invoices has produced a flurry of payments while raising the ire of some residents who find water shutoffs extreme or say they have been unfairly charged administrative expenses.

Meanwhile, the largest delinquent account is shrouded in confusion. Universal Properties, which owns the plaza on Route 2 where Best Buy and Home Depot, among other stores, are located, owes the city an undisclosed amount in water and sewer usage bills. Now in the hands of assistant city solicitor Diana Pearson, who did not return calls, questions are being raised on how plaza tenants were billed and whom they paid.

Until this summer, when the city required plaza tenants to install their own water meters, a single meter served the entire plaza.

City Tax Collector Kayla Jones said tenants are now billed separately. “Going forward, we’re in great shape,” she said.

Overall, the city’s diligence had paid off.

As of April 2016, the city was carrying $6.2 million in past due utility invoices. Of that amount, $4.1 million was made up of invoices 120 days late or later, Jones said in a recent interview. She said the group had a “history of non-payment.” Now the city is carrying $2.6 million in delinquencies, of which $2 million is 120 days late or more.

Getting to this point has involved numerous notifications, as well as water shutoffs of approximately 150 residents and businesses. The tax collector has also entered into 793 payment plans, whereby a shutoff won’t occur and the city won’t place the property into a tax sale as long as the payment schedule and current charges are met. Under the plans, the delinquent amount is to be paid off within a year.

In the latest crackdown, the city has targeted 1,200 property owners who are delinquent for at least two quarters and owe more than $500. In preparation for a Dec. 1 tax sale, the city sent its list of delinquencies to Rhode Island Tax Title that prepares the tax sale in late August. Letters were then sent on Sept. 9 to the delinquent accounts.

Jones said hundreds of people have responded to notification of the tax sale, making payments to avoid the sale and pay off amounts due. Certified letters as well as regular mail letters will go out on Oct. 20 as a reminder to those who still haven’t taken action.

She noted that the purpose of regular mail letters is to inform those people who are under the misconception they are exempt from the sale if they refuse a certified letter. As of this week the tax sale represents $1.6 million in unpaid utility bills.

Despite what Jones says has been a concerted effort to inform people of the consequences of not paying their utility bills, at least one resident, Patrick Quinn, feels it has been poorly communicated. Even though Quinn reduced his outstanding balance to less than $500 by the end of August, he was charged the $200 fee for a title search when he responded to the tax sale letter he received in September.

“They’re changing the rules and not informing anyone,” he protested.

Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur lauds the collection effort, although he says it should have been done earlier and could have saved anguish for many people.

“I’m glad the mayor and administration finally saw the light,” he said. “It’s unfortunate they ignored it all these years and allowed people to get backed up two and three years.”

Ladouceur focused on the issue when the city placed 2,500 properties into a 2014 tax sale. He found that up until the tax sale, the city had not made a diligent effort to make collections.

“The city never sent delinquency notices, never had shutoffs; how can you run a business and not send a notice?”

Ladouceur formed a committee that developed a programmed approach to addressing delinquents, set up a plan for hardship cases and recommended the use of shutoffs. Ladouceur contends the city could have been in the spot where it is today a year ago had it followed the committee’s recommendations, but he contends the administration chose to wait because it was an election year.

“Get the job done and forget the politics,” he advised. “Because of lack of leadership we end up in this big disaster,” he said.

Jones and Ladouceur agree that staying on top of delinquencies not only helps people from falling behind to a point where they face a shutoff or a tax sale but is also of help to those who stay on top of their bills.

“Hopefully,” Jones said, “there are no increases in rates. This helps everyone as a whole.”

Ladouceur believes aggressive collections are fair to all ratepayers.

Comments

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richardcorrente

Once again Councilman Ed Ladouceur shows his service to all taxpayers. During the last election my campaign office received a list of over a thousand people owing over a thousand dollars each on their water bill and it seemed abundantly clear to me that a huge number of Avedisian supporters were on that list. Ladouceur didn't allow the delinquencies to continue making the system fair to all. He didn't pick and choose who received the notices. If you owed money Ed realized that if you didn't pay, the rest of the taxpayers would have to pay more and he refused to let that happen. His efforts kept the rates from going up. Thanks Ed.

Happy Autumn Ed.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, September 21
CrickeeRaven

"During the last election my campaign office received a list of over a thousand people owing over a thousand dollars each on their water bill and it seemed abundantly clear to me that a huge number of Avedisian supporters were on that list."

As the fake "mayor" lost by a 65-35% margin in the 2016 election, any sampling of city residents would have shown that most of them supported the winning incumbent, who is the only person who deserves the title of "mayor."

His dark conspiracies about who did or did not receive shut-off notices are the latest proof of his complete unfitness for office, and continue his unbroken record of humiliating himself on this website. He will certainly continue with his future comments.

Thursday, September 21
Scal1024

Rick, you know who else had a copy of the list of delinquent tax/utility payments? The Captain. He has repeatedly shared that the name RICHARD CORRENTE has been all over that same list.

Your failure to pay car taxes etc has been mentioned over and over again. Your trail of debt and lies is long, and if you think you're going to lie your way through another election you are dead wrong. I don't know what failure bubble you live in, but in the real world your record stays with you forever. There is no running from your own record.

The Captain has also asked what city/town your car "BANK3RS" was registered in during the time you failed to pay taxes? Why can't you be honest with the taxpayers? Because you were CHEATING the taxpayers you falsely claim you represent. I look forward to more nonsense and idiotic talking points filled with more lies and fraud. For you to believe the things you say shows a clear sign of instability that this city cannot afford.

Thursday, September 21
Thecaptain

I am looking forward (so much) to the Fake Mayor attempting to lie about his car registration documentation so that I can post the actual documents to once again humiliate him as the buffoon liar tax cheat that he is. He serves as an example of an individual that has zero research skills, a conniving person looking for an opportunity to gain some type of social stature. But as Scall has commented, you live in a failed bubble world and actually believe that most people are as uniformed and incompetent as yourself.

This blog should incorporate the ability to post documents. If it did, believe me, I would fill it with reading material.

Thursday, September 21
Thecaptain

Oh yeah, one other thing Rick. Going head to head with me on the ability to perform research and obtain documents, is like going to Afghanistan to fight, armed with a bottle of Poland Spring water and a pea shooter. You lose !

Thursday, September 21
WarwickFreemason

Mr. Corrente,

Are these statements true about your inability to pay taxes, etc.? If not, then you need to be able to prove to the citizens of Warwick that the statements are false. From what I've seen over the past few months you are always one of the first people to comment on a variety subjects (taxes, contracts, budgets, etc.) and how if you were mayor things would be different and this is how you would change things, but then folks like "The Captain," "CrickeeRaven," "Justanidiot," "Scal1024" will bring up how you yourself are one of the biggest tax evaders, tax delinquents, I don't need to regurgitate all their claims, you know what they are. After they bring these accounts up, you either ignore them or you just stop posting in that particular article. Personally, if you wanted to receive my vote, than the first thing I would want to know if what they say about you is true and why and if not then show me proof that they are not true. Fortunately for me, I recently sold my house on Warwick Neck and moved to Smithfield. I hate ALL unions, I think they should be dissolved. My daughter, who has epilepsy and learning disabilities struggled in the Warwick School System, is now in a charter school and doing wonderful. So, for me, all the problems with associated with the WFD, WTU and WSC are no longer my concern. Don't get me wrong, I love Warwick, especially Warwick Neck, I was proud to live there and to be apart of that community for almost 20yrs.; but, I will not miss the politics. With that being said, while I am no longer able to vote for any Warwick politician, I would suggest if you truly want to be considered as a credible mayoral candidate, then you address the issues the honest, hardworking taxpayers of Warwick accuse you of. It is not "rocket science," if what they claim about you is false, show them, it is that simple.

Happy Waxing Moon Everyone,

Happy Waxing Moon Richard Corrente, The Captain, CrickeeRaven, Scal1024, Kammy, Justanidiot

Warwick Freemason

The Taxpayer's Freemason

Friday, September 22
CrickeeRaven

Hello WarwickFreemason:

You will very likely not get an answer from the fake "mayor," who you correctly point out has repeatedly avoided answering for any of the issues that other commenters and I have raised.

Allow me to provide a short history lesson on his tax delinquency. During the 2016 campaign, he claimed that his property tax valuations had been increased intentionally by the current mayor, while Mayor Avedisian's valuation and those of unnamed "relatives" had been reduced.

In the process of reviewing online property tax records, I found that, not only had the losing candidate not had a net increase in his property valuations on two properties, but he was not listed as the owner of his listed residence.

It was later reported on this website that the residence on Grand View Avenue had been sold at tax sale due to tax delinquency.

As you may agree, this proves the fact that the taxes on his property went unpaid while he lived there. Thecaptain has also frequently provided information on the losing candidate's car taxes, which went unpaid for three years while he claimed residence in Warwick.

In reply, the losing candidate has claimed that his mortgage lender was the reason for the issue, and that he has a pending court case about this situation, without providing any evidence.

Thank you for joining the many readers of this site who have taken issue with the losing candidate's behavior on this website.

Friday, September 22