Petersburg owed millions in unpaid taxes

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — An 8News investigation is uncovering just how much the City of Petersburg is owed in uncollected real estate and personal property taxes.

8News is getting a look at those numbers through the City Treasurer’s Office. They still stand to collect $7,500,000 in backed real estate taxes and another $3,300,000 in unpaid personal property taxes.

In all, Petersburg still needs to collect $10,800,000. That amount was uncovered by 8News after a Freedom of Information Act request to the City of Petersburg.

“$10,000,000 is a lot of money, its a whole lot of money and we can do a great amount of things with it,” said councilwoman Treska Wilson-Smith told 8News Investigative Reporter Parker Slaybaugh.

We showed our findings to Wilson-Smith, who says she was not aware of the exact number but says the treasurer’s office is working to collect.

“Our Treasurer came to the council meeting a couple of months ago and he requested permission to hire a firm that does this, so he has hired a firm to go after unpaid taxes,” Wilson-Smith explained.

We asked Wilson-Smith if not having this money in hand is what caused Petersburg to not pay some of its bills on time, such as the millions of dollars that were late to the Virginia Retirement System and money owed to a water treatment facility.

“Probably some of the reason,” she said, “but I don’t think it’s all of the reason.”

We are also learning that city council has recently approved a measure that, come the middle of April, authorizes the city rreasure to publish the names of anyone who owes money to they city. This all in an effort to make people pay up.

We did check in with Colonial Heights, and while they are a smaller city, they stand to collect much less than the 10.8 Million as in Petersburg. In real estate taxes alone they are looking to collect $296,000, and for personal property taxes another $286,000.

In all, Colonial Heights is owed roughly $555,000 in unpaid taxes.

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story. 

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