Journal News Reports on Biggest Tax Delinquents in New Rochelle; Greentree Still Among Top 3

Written By: Robert Cox

Cameroon.jpg Maybe there is hope for the Journal News after all. Yet another bit of original reporting by a Journal News reporter! Hannan Adley has a terrific article on the top tax delinquents in New Rochelle.

Eight property owners owe a combined $2.7 million in back taxes and interest to the city of New Rochelle, and the biggest delinquent by far is the nation of Cameroon….After two years of failure to pay taxes, the city typically will start foreclosure proceedings. At that time, some property owners choose to enter an agreement to pay overdue taxes.

#1) Republic of Cameroon: $1.4 million on a diplomatic residence at 50 Montgomery Circle – back to 1995.

#2) Lorcress Enterprises: $376,599 for apartment buildings at 50 and 44 Fountain Place – back to 2008.

#3) Michael Grammas: $248,322 for Greentree Country Club – back to 2007

#4) Calanit Atia: $120,503 for a single-family home at 217 Forest Avenue – back to 2008

#5) Justin P. Carey: $188,544 for a single-family home at 105 Lyncroft Road – since 2008

#6) Boram Inc.: $109,650 for a commercial row building at 537 Main Street – since 2008

#7) Judde Properties: $101,714 for an office building at 25 Coligni Avenue since 2005

#8) Frost Sand & Gravel: $91,948 for a warehouse at 40 Huntington Place.

IronyWatch: In the article, Howard Rattner says the “collection rate” for New Rochelle is 99% and “has been for 20 years”. Apparently Mr. Ratner prefers not to count all those open building permits, phony STAR and combat exemptions, those revenue producing multi-family dwellings that do not file their income statements and so on.

Talk of the Sound has been reporting on the issues over the Greentree since 2009. Had Adley run her report in December she would have found that the Greentree had over $500,000 in back taxes, that it was paying small amounts to prevent foreclosure and that this is an old game in New Rochelle — pay a fraction of what you owe and keep resetting the clock.

City Manager Charles Strome’s Country Club Biggest Tax Delinquent in New Rochelle, Over Half-Million Dollars

Tax records obtained by Talk of the Sound show a principal due of $402,688.78 and interest due of $101,216.40. The percentage of taxes owed to the school district are about 65% of the total bringing the amount owed to the school district to roughly $328,000.

A tax bill for $61,159.95 was paid by the Greentree in 2009. Sources familiar with the situation tell Talk of the Sound this is common practice. The City can begin foreclosure proceedings if a property owner is more than two years delinquent on their taxes. By paying a small amount every so often the property owner, in effect, resets the clock and buys more time. The high level of interest payments relative to principle suggests the Greentree has been running a large debt for the past several years.

Strome has been kind to other tax delinquents:

Talk of the Sound revealed that Strome waived thousands of dollars in back taxes owed by another city official, Domenic Procopio, Chairman of New Rochelle’s Civil Service Commission. Procopio had improperly received two Combat Veteran tax exemptions for at least 8 years on his property at 7 Pinebrook Road in New Rochelle. The City of New Rochelle has claimed that the deductions were granted to a previous homeowner and were carried forward in error when the property changed hands. The City has failed to produce any records that the previous owner applied for any deductions or that the previous owner served in the military. Sources have confirmed that Mr. Procopio, an immigrant from Italy, never served in the U.S. military.