Sunday, October 16, 2016

Missing Money, Yours and Theirs

Your money: A recent Plaintalker post included names of many city residents who have forgotten amounts of money that they can claim through

Their money: On Oct. 20, residents who owe money to the city or PMUA will be subject to a tax lien sale, meaning a purchaser may pay the money owed and then the property owner owes the lien holder the amount, with up to 18 percent interest. If the lien and interest remain unpaid for two years, the lien holder can move to foreclose on the property.

Back to the first category. On this "missing money" post from August, you can see all the names that appeared in a large ad published by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury. I noticed that instead of having just Somerset County residents, this ad had a lot of Plainfield names, some very familiar. So I laboriously keyed them all in, and a few people told me they followed through to claim the missing money. I think eventually any unclaimed money goes to the state if the owner does not come forward.

As for the tax lien sale scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 20 in City Hall Library, the notice ran twice, listing the block and lot, amount of taxes owed to the city and fees owed to the PMUA, along with an admonition that all bidders must register in advance (the deadline was Oct. 5). Any unsold liens go to the city at 18 percent interest.

As an example of how interest can mount up, I once had to look up a case where the original amount owed was $7,155. As the taxes kept accruing, charges totaling $30,920 were added, along with $13,358 in interest. With a couple of fees added, the total needed to redeem the lien after two years had grown to $51,732.

The city has seen an increase in its collection rate recently to (as I recall) 97 percent, so on this list of more than 1,400 items, only about 170 include city taxes. Most of the six-page list is for money owed to the PMUA, an independent authority which provides sewer and solid waste services to the city .

In 2010, the PMUA was owed $1.2 million from ratepayers who didn't pay. I did not try to add up the debt this time, but it must be a lot to fill up six pages.

The top debtor, if I scanned the pages correctly, is a North Avenue company that owes nearly $45,000. As always, the list includes some well-known personalities: one councilwoman, one present and several past school board members, one would-be political  bigwig, two disgraced police officers and some business owners.

Click to link to the Tax Collector's office for some general information and contact numbers.



  1. Where is latest list of pmua lines ?

  2. When we had a private service collecting our trash the private company would never have allowed their receivables to accumulate to $1,200,000. This sum must represent years of defaults. Its nice that the PMUA has awakened and is now attempting o collect the arrears, but it raises the question of where have they been? Since the PMUA spends what it collects, and the law requires the rates to total what they spend, plus a contingent allowance, the bottom line is that those people who do pay are sharing the cost of the deficit. Bill Kruse