An elected official in the Town of Alden hasn’t paid his property taxes in more than five years and is in peril of losing his home to foreclosure.
Carl E. Fix, highway superintendent for the town, and his wife, Ann, own a home and adjoining vacant lot on Broadway with an assessed value of $72,100. But the county, the town and the Alden Central School District haven’t received a dime in property taxes for either property since 2007.
Erie County will foreclose on the house at 11059 Broadway, but not the adjoining vacant lot, in March if the overdue taxes are not paid, county officials said. The lot is safe for the time being because the county is not foreclosing on vacant parcels.
Fix, a Republican serving a four-year term that ends Dec. 31, 2013, said he was unaware of the unpaid taxes and that he would have to consult with his bank.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, I have no idea,” Fix told Investigative Post. ”These things are supposed to be taken care of by the bank. I don’t think I’ve received anything in the mail at all.”
Joseph L. Maciejewski, director of Erie County Real Property Tax Services, cast doubt on that claim.
He said Fix would have received more than two dozen notices from the county over the past six years. Fix also would have received additional correspondence from the town, according to Alden Town Clerk Ralph P. Witt.
“I can tell you we send a notice in July of the current year and then we send a second notice in November of the same year,” Maciejewski said. “So we send two notices per year. So you’re talking 25 times at least some communication from the county sending out a delinquent notice.”
The highway superintendent also would have received two foreclosure notices via mail, one certified, in the last two months, Maciejewski said.
Fix did not return follow-up calls seeking comment.
Fix and his wife purchased the single family home in 2002 and the vacant lot located at 11045 Broadway in 2005. The couple last made a tax partial payment on the home in 2007, according to county records, while their taxes have been in arrears on the lot since 2006.
Combined, they owe $33,349, including principal and interest.
Foreclosure proceedings are normally triggered after three years, although cost-cutting measures enacted while former County Executive Chris Collins was in office limited his department’s ability to foreclose on delinquent property owners, Maciejewski said. Funding has been returned under current county chief, Mark Poloncarz, and the county is now in the process of foreclosing on 300 homes in 2013.
“We lost a lot or our teeth for a while,” Maciejewski said. “Now, we’ve really been cleaning up things.”
He added that the county is making every effort to allow home and property owners to maintain ownership, particularly those who are enduring financial hardships because of a loss of job or sudden family illness, and have a history of keeping their tax payments up to date.
“We are extremely willing to to work with taxpayers who have legitimate reasons,” he said.