Event to help tax delinquent property owners

Published 8:53 am Friday, February 12, 2016

Property owners looking to avoid foreclosure for delinquent property taxes are encouraged to meet with representatives from the Berrien County Treasurer’s office Saturday in Buchanan.

The event, hosted by Treasurer Bret Witkowski, is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Buchanan District Library, which is located at 128 E. Front St.

“If you are behind at any stage, we want to get people into a payment plan,” Witkowski said. “It will not stop interest and penalties, but if you are paying every month you will cut down on interest and penalties dramatically.”

Witkowski said a similar tax-help event hosted recently in Niles were successful with approximately 70 people signing up for payment plans.

“The reception was much more than what I had anticipated, which is a good thing,” he said.

Witkowski said the county has the ability to foreclose on a property if the owner is three years or more behind on their taxes.

People who owe taxes from 2013 or before must pay them or sign up for a payment plan by March 31 to avoid the possibility of foreclosure.

Witkowski said his office is offering these events because some people in the south portion of the county are unable or unwilling to travel to his office in St. Joseph to receive help.

Others don’t realize they can set up a payment plan, rather than paying the whole tax bill all at once.

“Some people might look at a $2,000 tax bill and want to walk away,” he said. “They don’t realize that with a payment plan that can be $200 a month.”

Witkowski said approximately 93 percent of the people who sign up for a payment plan are successful.

Those who can’t make the tax event can go to the treasurer’s office from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or call Witkowski at (269) 983-7111 ext. 8569.