Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Audit Reminded Me that the Collector's Office is Incompetent

The newly released city audit states something with which I, unfortunately, had first hand experience, “The city does not have strong controls over its revenue cycles, including the billing and related collection of city-provided services, billing of taxes, and other collection efforts.”

I was 24 years old when I bought my first and current house in Fall River in 2004. I did everything right – I worked 2 jobs to pay for it while still finishing college. Every penny I had, went to pay my mortgage or to home improvements. I was the perfect Fall River homeowner…..except for the fact that I wasn’t paying my property taxes.

As is the case with most residential mortgages, property tax is taken from monthly mortgage payments and put into an escrow account for quarterly city tax payments. I followed this process and put money into my Fall River property tax escrow account with every month’s mortgage payment. When I went to refinance in 2007 I was shocked to find out the city had a lien against my house because I hadn’t paid my property taxes in the 3 years since I purchased it. My mortgage company (New Century – now bankrupt) had been using my escrow money to pay my neighbor’s property taxes for 3 years because the company had gotten the wrong parcel id #.

So…I do realize ultimate fault lies in the now defunct mortgage company for messing up the tax payments BUT I am more annoyed with the city collector’s office who noticed I hadn’t paid taxes on my property in 3 years and went to the trouble of getting a lien against my property rather than sending me a letter notifying me of the problem and asking for the money. According to the staff at the Fall River Collector’s Office, they published a notice in the Herald News that I hadn’t paid my taxes and that they were putting a lien on my property. The Fall River Collector’s Office also continued to send me quarterly bill copies for three years without any mention that I owed them thousands of dollars.

In light of the fact that the city went to the trouble of getting a lien against my house and published my default in the newspaper, my question to the collector’s office was “why didn’t you notify me directly, you obviously had my address” – their answer, “well we don’t do that”.

Hopefully the city hierarchy makes some drastic changes based on the audit.


Anonymous said...

Didn't your receive a quarterly
tax statment from the city?

shamrock said...

Yes (I noted that in my post but perhaps I didn't emphasize it enough). I was receiving my quarterly statements for 3 years from the city without any notice that I was 3 years past due because apparently it is "easier" for the city to get liens on property and to take out newspaper ads than to make a notation on a tax bill that someone is past due.

Anonymous said...

That's scary I changed my mortgage
to an escrow account to pay my
taxes that way, I better check it!!!

FRC said...

hilarious story every time I hear it.

Anonymous said...

Collector's Office does stink no doubt about it but I guess not as bad as Bob's fixed audit wanted us to believe. Audit said more than $40 million wasn't collected in 10 years when in reality it is $9 million. Still too much money not collected but a $31 million dollar difference is a big deal don't you think? A little bit of egg on the face of Mayor Correia and the State Auditor.

shamrock said...

I have some serious questions about the accuracy of the audit. The only money I can be absolutely certain was not collected correctly was the couple of thousand that I owed them.

Personally, I believe the audit reports what Correia and Denucci planned in it advance for it to report.

Anonymous said...

I feel confident it will get fixed with Rep Correia's experience

especially when he spends his time
using his squash!!!

Filing the following Bill :


By Mr. Correia of Fall River, petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 3175) of Cassandra Eddy for legislation to designate squash as the vegetable of the Commonwealth. State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Cassandra Eddy


In the Year Two Thousand and Seven.


An Act designating the squash as the official vegetable of the Commonwealth.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

Chapter 2 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 53. The squash shall be the official vegetable of the commonwealth.

shamrock said...


Thank goodness for Bob's bold stance on squash. I hear the brussel sprout lobby is a huge contributor to Dave Sullivan's campaigns. It is nice to see that Bob refused to give in to the sprout movement.

Anonymous said...


They say laughter is the best medicine so get ready for some

Anonymous said...

It’s time to start looking at the qualifications of the
Mayor’s friends:

Our audit is actually a feather
in his cap if it looks like he
is saving money. If nothing
showed up it would not have looked
good for the deputy dog and watch

Maybe the state animal should be
the dog.

Audit completed by a former boxer, wow he is proably
also qualified to be fire chief.


For over three decades, Joe DeNucci has dedicated himself to public service. He has been the Auditor of the Commonwealth since 1987 and, before being elected Auditor, served as a State Representative from Newton and Waltham for ten years. Throughout his life in public service, Joe DeNucci has earned a reputation for integrity, independence and compassion.

When Joe DeNucci first ran for State Auditor, he promised that he would be the “watchdog for the underdog.” Today, he still hold true to that promise. As Joe frequently puts it, “the cruelest tax of all is waste. It hurts people - often the youngest and the oldest, and those most in need of services from government.” His audits have identified more than $2.5 billion in cost savings, unallowable and unecessary expenditures and uncollected revenue. Joe looks for ways to prevent waste and make government more efficient. He searches for uncollected revenues, and finds ways to make existing funds go further. Joe DeNucci has taken on the tough audits of state agencies and authorities like the Big Dig and the MBTA. He monitors state contracts with private companies to ensure cost savings and quality work. He has helped protect cities and towns from unfunded state mandates and has been a strong advocate for important local programs. Through his Bureau of Special Investigations, he works to detect and prevent welfare and Medicaid fraud and abuse.

During his 10 years as State Representative and as House Chairman of the Joint Legislature Committee on Human Services and Elderly Affairs, Joe DeNucci earned a reputation as one of the hardest working, most effective members of the Massachusetts House. His many accomplishments include laws to fight child abuse and neglect; establishing a foster care review system; providing better nutrition for children; combating homelessness; preventing abuse of the elderly. As Chairman of the Special Commission on Disability, he also took on the federal government to help disabled person keep their social security and disability benefits.

After serving in the House, Joe was elected Auditor in 1986 and has been re-elected five times. He currently serves as chairman of both the State Inspector General’s council and the Municipal Finance Oversight Board. He is the vice chairman of the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission. He also serves as a member of the Massachusetts Teacher’s Retirement Board, the School Building Authority Advisory Board, Health Care Quality and Cost Council, the Witness Protection Board, the County Government Finance Review Board, and the State Comptroller’s Advisory Board. He is the state designee to and a past chairman of the New England Intergovernmental Audit Forum, and is a member of the Association of Government Accountants.

Before entering public life, he was a professional boxer, ranking among the world’s top middleweights. In recognition of his outstanding boxing career, Joe was inducted into the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago in May, 2004.

Anonymous said...

I've never completed an audit and admit to knowing little to nothing about accounting. With that being said, even if there are some issues with the audit, the bottom line is that the previous administration thought they were playing with monopoly money and not our tax dollars. I agree with Cathy Ann (even if I don't believe she is positioning herself for a run for Mayor). We need to find out whether this was incompetence, neglect or criminal. My guess is it's the former two. Lambert was known for hiring people with questionable experience to fill critical roles (i.e. Maureen Glisson, Richard Trief, at least 2 of the five Durfee Principals during his tenure, etc.).

shamrock said...


I'll come clean - I voted twice on FRC's blog poll http://www.frc-fallrivercommunity.blogspot.com/
that the attorney general should "investigate the finances of fall river based on the state auditor's report."

I agree with you that we, "need to find out whether this was incompetence, neglect or criminal."

Anonymous said...

New Task Force:


07/14/2006 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn St. Fall River, MA 02720 $100.00 Correia, Robert
12/29/2006 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn St. Fall River, MA 02720 $200.00 President Citizens Union Savings Bank Correia, Robert
04/11/2007 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn St. Fall River, MA 02720 $300.00 President Citizens Union Savings Bank Correia, Robert
02/27/2001 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
02/11/2002 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
02/12/2003 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
02/11/2004 Christ, Nicholas M. 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
01/26/2005 Christ, Nicholas M. 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
01/31/2007 Christ, Nicholas M. 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $200.00 President Citizens Union Savings Bank Correia, Robert

Anonymous said...

New Task Force: