West Haven pauses plan to sell hundreds of delinquent sewer liens

Photo of Brian Zahn
A third floor hallway outside of the Mayor's Office at West Haven City Hall photographed on May 18, 2022.

A third floor hallway outside of the Mayor's Office at West Haven City Hall photographed on May 18, 2022.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

WEST HAVEN — The City Council delayed a vote on whether it should sell liens, after some members raised concerns that the low threshold was too punitive against residents.

On June 13, Finance Director Scott Jackson presented four bids to the City Council to sell delinquent liens. The city reported its delinquent liens were worth $872,014 as of June 1.

However, Councilwoman Robbin Watt-Hamilton, D-5, highlighted something that bothered her: the amount of delinquent liens listed at $426.

“There’s almost 300 of them. That makes me think there might be some kind of issue. Maybe we’re not communicating to the residents that they have this amount out there. I don’t think all these people would ignore $426, because I think its doable,” she said. “When it gets sold, there is a fee attached to it and sometimes it spins out of control.”

Watt-Hamilton said she had concerns that it may be an issue of residents not knowing their sewer tax liens were delinquent.

“Isn’t there a kinder way to reach out to these folks?” she said.

Jackson said that City Hall had encountered numerous people who came to pay their taxes once they received notice from the city.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Bridgette Hoskie said she wanted to delay the vote to sell delinquent liens until June 27 to make a “last-ditch plea” to residents to pay. However, those with delinquent sewer tax liens may be in the clear for now.

The council asked the city to pull the list of delinquent liens again, but with a higher threshold. Jackson said the list presented to the council for sale had a minimum threshold of $150. Hoskie said that annually the City Council requests that the threshold be raised. The council requested to see the list again with a minimum threshold of $500 before it takes its vote.

Jackson said that, although that would reduce the amount the city would receive through the sale, the city was on track to collect over 100 percent of the tax revenue included in its budget for the current fiscal year.