SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – A woman who bought a condo at Quarry Ridge Townhomes is asking the city to waive nearly $700 in penalties and interest on her property taxes, claiming she never received the bill or any late notices.
Maria Donoghue purchased the condo in June 2018. Since then, bills and late notices have been sent to the former owner of the property, who lives in Florida.
“I was not thrilled that the previous owner was getting the letters and didn’t have the courtesy to send them to me,” Maria said.
City Manager Kevin Dorn said this is standard procedure for municipalities across Vermont.
“What happened in this case was that the individual bought the property from an investor who had a different address,” Dorn said. “The tax bill still went to that address, and that’s the way it works in Vermont until the Grand List is updated in the spring.”
Donoghue discovered the late fees when she was preparing to file her taxes in March. Her father has jumped in on the effort to get the money back. He’s reached out to Dorn and other city officials, who sympathize but insist she still has to pay up by May 15 or face even more fees.
“She applied for a waiver, did all that paperwork, and was denied,” said Kevin Donoghue, Maria’s father. “That’s when I decided to get involved, I said ‘Well, I know the people over at city Hall, they’re nice people, let me go over and see what I can find out,’ and I didn’t get much further.”
Despite the city’s response, Maria and Kevin made another attempt to have the fees waived during Monday’s city council meeting. Typically, the city only waives penalties and interest if the resident died or is critically ill. City Council Chair Helen Riehle, however, suggested they should appeal to the Board of Abatement.
“It sounds like you’re not dead, and you’re not deathly ill, but you had some other mitigating situations that might compel them to waive it,” Riehle said. “I cannot speak for them, we get lots of requests like this and we have to be very careful.”
Riehle said the next Board of Abatement meeting is later this month.
In the wake of this conflict, Dorn said the city is going to start giving new residents a ‘welcome packet’ with the hope that both parties are on the same page when it comes to property taxes.