Treasurer’s office collects more than $200K in back taxes

Monday, July 8th, 2013 @ 7:48AM

PETERSBURG – Kevin Brown, treasurer of the City of Petersburg, announced that his office, working with the law firm of Sands Anderson, has collected $214,018.01 in delinquent real estate taxes owed to the city by Fort Lee Regency, the former Ramada Inn.

“This amount has accumulated since 2007 and represents the largest amount of delinquent real estate taxes owed to the city on any one property,” Brown said. “We collected the full amount due to the city, without deduction.”

Brown explained that when he took office, his predecessor Carole Matthews had informed him of the taxes owed by the Ramada. An agreement had been in place for the hotel to pay its taxes by April 2010.

“In May, I contacted them because they hadn’t been brought current yet,” Brown said. He further explained that the Ramada had been waiting for an insurance check to pay the back taxes. “But that had apparently already been held up for years.”

The Ramada asked Brown for an extension to the fall of 2010. An extension was granted – but only through June 30. When the taxes still remained unpaid, Brown asked Sands Anderson – a law firm that is assisting the city in collecting delinquent real estate taxes – to get involved.

Brown said that when he first took office, there were four law firms that the city was working with to do the same. Since then, he has consolidated to just Sands Anderson.

“Basically, they asked if they could have the opportunity,” Brown said. He added that with Sands Anderson, it looked like the best bang for the city’s buck.

Brown said that the city has no upfront expense for the effort of Sands Anderson.

According to an agreement with Sands Anderson, the firm provide legal services related to the collection of delinquent real estate taxes for 20 percent plus other costs, which include but are not limited to, postage, long distance and required advertisements.

The agreement further notes that to eliminate costs to be paid by the city, the firm will be responsible for collecting all delinquent real estate tax payments and holding those payments in an interest-bearing trust account designated for the city. The treasurer will receive all funds in the designated interest-bearing trust account after deduction of the advanced costs and fees.

Since beginning to work with Sands Anderson, Brown said in a press release that the city has collected the past-due amount from the Ramada, plus another $11,000 in other delinquent taxes.

Soon, the city may collect some more taxes as there will be a delinquent tax sale Feb. 18. Seven properties will be sold at the sale.

There Sands Anderson’s fees will be adjusted slightly, to 25 percent of the tax due, with a minimum of $2,500 per parcel plus costs, a 10 percent auctioneer fee – should the Circuit Court and City Treasurer decide to employ an auctioneer or 5 percent if Sands Anderson conducts the auction plus an additional 3 percent fee if the parcel is sold at a surplus.

If a parcel is sold at a surplus, the Circuit Court Clerk will retain the money for two years, and if no claim is made against the funds, the surplus will be paid to the city.

“It is a pleasure to work with the Treasurer and the City on these matters,” said James E. Cornwell, Jr., supervising attorney for the delinquent real estate tax collections at Sands Anderson in a press release announcing the amount collected from the Fort Lee Regency. “As part of our efforts for the City, we plan to conduct a sale of delinquent properties within the next 60 days.”

Notices of these sales, along with others across the state, are posted on the law firm’s website.

Founded more than 160 years ago, Sands Anderson has 70 lawyers practicing among its offices in Richmond, Christiansburg, Fredericksburg, McLean and the Research Triangle of North Carolina.

In 2010, it was ranked eighth in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly annual listing of the state’s largest law firms. Sands Anderson provides a full range of legal services to corporations and businesses, health care providers, financial institutions, state and local governments, the insurance industry and individuals.

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