Share |

20% Increase in Tax Sales Means 150 More Property Owners Couldn't Pay Their Bills In 2011 Than The Year Before

Nineteen Investors Bought Up Debts Owed to City on 700+ Properties Last Year
December 21 Tax Sale
Investors gather in City Hall's Council Chambers to bid on debts owed to the city by property owners. Charles Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After two public auctions, the city has sold the debts on 749 properties to investors in the form of tax sale certificates, according to the city's Finance Director.  And that figure marks a 20% increase over last year's number.

Mayor James Cahill's office has not responded to several requests for comment on the increase.

When asked for his opinion at Wednesday's City Council meeting, Council President Robert Recine said he's not concerned about the number of tax sales, but he is concerned about the people who were unable to pay their bills.

The liens are for unpaid property taxes, interest, water and sewer bills, and health hazards remedied by the city such as properties with "overgrown" lawns that were cut at the city's behest.  Additionally, liens sometimes reflect charges for unpaid relocation fees when tenants at a property are put up in hotels due to housing code violations.

Recine said that the increase in delinquent properties was "part of the overall economy."

"It's unfortunate for the people who can't pay their taxes, but it's not unusual.  Anytime the economy has a slump, the tax liens go up," added City Attorney Bill Hamilton.

The liens against properties were bought up by investors who will at the very least profit from interest charged on the debtor.  Bidding starts at 18% interest on each lien and descends as more investors make bids.

In some instances, investors agreed to accept a 0% interest rate on the debt, and even paid a premium to the city on top of the debts they were taking care of.

For example, bidder #241 agreed to pay a premium of $26,100, in addition to paying off a $21,120.82 lien on 152 Livingston Avenue, for the tax sale certificate on the offices of Badran Tax Services.  The business' owner, Amro Badran plead guilty last month to over a million dollars worth of bank fraud.

A lienholder may initiate foreclosure proceedings if the debts are not paid within 2 years.  Here is a list of the top 10 individual liens (most debt) sold to the public:

Property Owner/Tenants
Address
Debts Owed
New Street Area Redevelopment, LLC
Staff Management Services/
Middlesex Co. Office of the Public Defender
(+2 other properties)
172 New St
(+181 & 183 New St.)
$37,072.68
(Total: $50,376.87)
World's Best Temps, Inc.
Corona Bar & Nightclub
253 French St
$21,339.04
Amro Badran
Badran Tax Consultants
(+6 other properties)
152 Livingston Av
(+345 Townsend St.,
48 Handy St.,
40 Comstock St.,
54 Delavan St.,
46 Throop Ave.,
204 Hamilton St., &
14 Taylor Dr.)
$21,120.82
(Total: $34,972.46)
Arthur Jr. & Barbara Anderson
Anderson Funeral Home
201 Sandford St
$20,596.22
Abisleiman, Ghazi & Naji
Tula Lounge
47 Easton Ave. $17,740.15
JA & JM Associates, LLC
Abandoned C&S Wholesale Grocer warehouse
(+2 other properties)
580 Jersey Ave.
(+49 & 51 Lawrence St.)
$16,719.84
(Total: $25,258.58)
Roseknoll Associates/ Kaminsk
House
47 Simplex Ave. $15,398.25
Brunswick Circle Realty Co, Inc.
Abandoned Bennigan's
17 Rt 18 $15,303.35
Ramesh & Zailoon Ramjiawan
House
(+4 other properties)
181 Lawrence St.
(+177 Lawrence &
170, 172 Rutgers St, &
62 Georges Rd.)
$14,467.02
(Total: $22,770.69)
Ben Sistrunk
House
(+2 other properties)
28 Lee Ave.
(+290 Lee & 2 Lake St.)
$14,123.56
(Total: $20,011.19)


New Street Area Redevelopment LLC topped the list for their property at 172 New Street, a two-story office building with at least two tenants and a for rent sign.  They also owe thousands more on three other properties on the same block.  The Voorhees-based developer had big plans to build enormous structures including a hotel, high-rise housing, and a supermarket and fitness center.

Those plans, however, appear to have fallen apart in the shaky economy.

"I haven't had any contact with them in quite some time... I think the last time formal action was taken on this was several years ago," said Glenn Patterson, the city's Planning Director.

Chester Kiddell was the most frequent name to appear in the 18-page list of delinquent properties as of December 21.  Kiddell owes a whopping $55,710.59 on 15 city properties, including seven condominiums in the 4th Ward's "Hampton Club" gated community.

Hampton Club itself was home to the greatest concentration of tax sales.  In the 311-unit complex, liens against 50 condominiums were sold at the auction, though most were for relatively small amounts of money.

Even the Condominium Association failed to pay $11,903.70 it owed the city in advance of the auction.

Buildings that are home to several popular businesses had sizable liens sold against them including the Corona Bar and Nightclub on French Street, Anderson Funeral Home on Sandford Street, as well as both Evelyn's Restaurant and the Tula Lounge on Easton Avenue.

Leon Cook, an uncle of City Councilman Jimmie L. Cook, Jr. had a $1,812 lien on his Townsend Street home sold at the December 21 auction.  Councilman Cook lives at the property according to his most recent electoral filings.

Cook was unavailable for comment on this story and has not been in attendance at a City Council meeting since October 5, when city officials were bombarded by protests from civil rights groups and citizens regarding the shooting of an unarmed city resident by police.

All but eight of the liens up for auction sold on December 21.  The other eight were sold at another auction the week later.

In case you were wondering who bought all those liens, here's everyone who spent more than $50,000 at the auction.

Buyer
Number
of Liens
Total Paid
MTAG-Cust-ATCF 11 NJ-Capitol One
49 properties
$476,134.40
US Bank Cust For Tower DBW
79 properties
$293,648.20
Singh Real Estate
77 properties
$270,033.03
US Bank Cust For Crestar Capital
29 properties
$265,060.85
KSS Certificates, Inc. 16 properties $186,840.73
SB Muni Cust C/o LBNJ
40 properties $88,637.37
Mo Geo, LLC 49 properties $78,477.29
Pam Investors
54 properties $58,710.36
US Bank Cust for Phoenix 13 properties $58,016.64
Stephan Dicke 15 properties $55,508.15


Other buyers of liens included Joel Mair (57 properties), US Bank Cust for ATR Fund-NJ&Capone (36 properties), and Virgo Municipal Finance Fund LP (37 properties).  In all, only 19 entities bought all 700+ liens in the city.