Petersburg treasurer defends effort to pursue millions in back taxes

PETERSBURG, Va (WRIC) — Petersburg Treasurer Kevin Brown held a community forum Monday to address his efforts to collect taxes that residents owe the city.

Brown says total tax delinquency is about $8M.

“You can’t come to city hall asking for new things and better things and you are not paying your bills,” Brown said.

Residents filled  Zion Baptist Church for a forum Brown called to inform the public about his efforts to collect back taxes and help the city eliminate $18M of debt.

“The treasurer is doing his job,” Petersburg resident Michael Edwards told 8News Reporter Nakell Williams. “He is making the public aware of the programs that are here. Not only will the program pay what they owe in back taxes, but it will make sure there taxes are paid in full for the whole year and they are not due until the following year,” said Michael Edwards.

Other programs include issuing liens on people who are delinquent.

“Everybody knows times are still hard,” Edwards added. “Petersburg is a poverty stricken city. Not everybody is employed, but I do believe out citizens are trying.”

Finance options with low-interestt rates and minimal penalties are also available to help people become current.

The question many asked Monday night is what caused the City of Petersburg to accrue so much debt? Residents say some members of council have told them they were unaware of the the debt. Residents say people are making excuses waiting on others to take responsibility.

“If they didn’t know they should’ve have known and they should be held accountable. I’d like to see some people get taken away in some handcuffs because what they are doing to this city is inexcusable,” said one resident.

Brown said he believes a part of the city’s problem is a finance department with incompetent leaders. He says the city is also in dire need of critical technology and software upgrades.

He says his office has collected $1.3M  since reviving collection efforts, and they expect those number to increase.

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