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the legal screws to extract the money from those who are indisposed, or more frequently, unable to pay, are very severe already, and the ninth section of the act requires, on Croton Water rents, in April, “ another additional charge of ten per cent." The interest is twelve per cent. the same as is charged on arrears of taxes.
Whatever the rate of fees may be, it is indispensable that the public agent who receives any fees should be able to show clearly that he is authorized by an act of the Legislature, or an ordinance of the Common Council, to receive the sum which he demands. It is a protection to the public agent to be enabled to answer the complaints of those who are doing business in his department, by showing him the law for every item demanded; and no public agent should make an exaction, unless he can show authority for it. The complaining party should not be put off with the too common answer, that the exaction is an established usage of the office. These usages, in many cases within my observation, are gross abuses.
The eighteeenth section authorizes the Corporation to borrow such amounts as may be required to meet the deficiencies caused by delay in collecting arrears of assessments. The sums required to be borrowed to meet deficiencies, on account of assessments, will be essentially increased, in consequence of deferring the sales for three Fears, instead of having them annually, as heretofore. At the sale for assessments, in April last, the Street Commissioner bid in for the city, no person offering to pay the assessment for a lease of the land for a thousand years. The amount advanced from the treasury, to pay for "lands purchased for assessments," at the last sale, was seventy-seven thousand nine hundred and eleven dollar and seventy-two cents.
The extension of time on sales for arrears, will also materially increase the sums to be borrowed on assessment bonds.
The postponement of the collection of arrears from one year to three or four years, is of very questionable advantage, even to the negligent owner, when interest is running against the premises at the rate of twelve per cent. per annum. The requirement to pay annually is & better protection to the careless owner than the seeming privilege of three years. The owner does not knowingly hazard the loss of his land for the small sum assessed on it, unless from forgetfulness or inability to pay.
The person who forgets to pay within the year, is still more likely to forget the day if his memory is tasked for three years; and if inability is the cause, it is better for the owner that he should be forced to pay before the twelve per cent. for three years can be added.
The system for the collection of taxes adopted in 1843, is, in most respects, an admirable system, and I do not think the extension of the time for the sales of arrears is an improvement. The fees chargeable on delinquents, however, ought to be clearly defined, and set forth in the tax law itself. There are complaints of exactions on the part of the collector of arrears, which would be removed by such a provision. .
Claims of the Corporation of the City of New York for Unpaid
Assessments and Taxes. The act in relation to the collection of arrears of asSessments, passed July 20, 1853, and which takes effect on
the first day of January 1854, will bring into the Finance Department, for collection, a list of all the items of assessment prior to 1848, suspended in consequence of the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case of Doughty vs. Hope.
There is an amount of seven or eight hundred thousand dollars which ought to be brought into the City Treasury, from the suspended sales for taxes and assessments, arising from what the courts have decided to be a defective notice in regard to redemption of the premises from the effect of the sale. The justice and equity of the claim of the city to indemnity is in no respect impaired or weakened by the defect in the notice. Its effect has been to give the persons assessed some five or six years to redeem their lands from the sale, instead of two years, as provided in the tax and assessment laws.
Cases have been commenced, on the part of the city, to collect the assessments in arrear, and one of these cases is now before the Court of Appeals for a final decision. If this case is decided in favor of the city, it may be desirable to get a special act of the Legislature passed, authorizing the Finance Department to re-advertise and re-sell the lots and premises on which assessments and taxes are
still in arrear.
The history of the claims of the city for unpaid assessments is briefly as follows: In October 1846, Judge Edmonds decided, in a case which came before him, where a lot had been sold for arrearages of assessments and a lease executed to the purchasers for eight hundred years, that the mode of giving notice for the redemption of land sold for assessments, was defective, and the sale voia. The case was carried to the Supreme Court for a new trial, which was denied. The law in relation to the sales of land for taxes and assessments, contained a provision that the owners might redeem the land within two years from the date of the sale, and that six months previous to the expiration of the time for redemption "notice should be published in one daily newspaper in the city of New York, twice in each week, for six weeks successively." Judge Bronson, in affirming the opinion of Judge Edmonds, held that “the six weeks publication should have been complete before the commencement of the last six months of the two years after the sale, which is allowed for redeeming.” “ The publication must be completed within the first eighteen months of the two years." The case was carried to the Court of Appeals, and the decision of the Supreme Court was there affirmed.
In consequence of this decision, the Common Council, in February, 1848, passed an ordinance, authorizing the Comptroller to draw his warrant in favor of the purehasers in all cases of sales for taxes and assessments, for the amount of the purchase money, with interest at the rate of seven per cent., together with the expenses executing and recording the leases. The amount thus repaid from the City Treasury to the purchasers at the sales for assessments, amounted to one hundred and sixty-two thousand and ninety-six dollars and thirty-three cents.
In the Comptroller's report of 1848, it was stated that the whole number of parcels sold for assessments, and not redeemed, is two thousand six hundred and seventy-four; and the aggregate sum for which they were sold, amounts