One of the city’s attorneys resigned Tuesday after making a mistake that could delay this year’s foreclosures for months.
Assistant Corporation Counsel Frank Salamone sent out paperwork late, in essence telling property owners that they had just two months to pay their back taxes before foreclosure, Corporation Counsel John Polster said.
The law gives them three months to pay off their bill.
Now the city must send out all the foreclosure notices again and delay the foreclosures for three months to give everyone the correct amount of time to pay.
Polster said the mistake occurred when Salamone calculated the due date while he was doing the paperwork in December. That work took longer than expected, so the final notices had the wrong date, Polster said.
“Had everything been done in December, the dates he had would have been correct,” Polster said, adding that it wasn’t a big mistake.
“It’s not deadly. It’s just an inconvenience,” he said. “I’m not looking to crucify him. I don’t want this to come out that he was bad.”
He said it will take city workers about two weeks to stuff envelopes and prepare the new mailings.
It will also cost the city about $2,000 in postage, he said.
The new deadline for paying off back taxes will be in mid-July, and the city will go to court to take properties in late July or early August, Polster said.
Originally, the city would have taken about 300 properties at the end of this month, he said.
He said it was Salamone’s decision to resign in the wake of the mistake.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said he was aware of the situation and was letting Polster handle it. Polster selects his assistants, McCarthy said.
Salamone did not return a call seeking comment.
The mailings are crucial because they give each property owner, and those with an interest in the property, a certain amount of time to pay off back taxes and avoid foreclosure. The court won’t approve foreclosures until owners have had that chance.
The delay means every property owner now has three more months to scrape up the money to pay off their taxes. Originally, their deadline was the end of March and the city collected $1.7 million in back taxes from those able to pay off their bills.
But while the city may collect more money now from truly last-minute payers, sending out mailings isn’t cheap. The notices must be sent by regular and certified mail.
They also must be sent to multiple people for each property. A single property could have mailings sent to several joint owners, a bank holding the mortgage, another bank holding a second mortgage and those who placed a lien on the property for judgments.