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After Tax Debate, 58 Main Street Put on the Market

Dale DeJoy, managing member of MBP Associates, LLC, the property owner, said he listed the building with Allen Gammons of Prudential Gammons Realty.

58 Main St., an historic commercial building that houses Silver Spoon Bakery and Lina Piccolina, is on the market.

Dale DeJoy, managing member of MBP Associates, LLC, the property owner, said he listed the building with Allen Gammons of Prudential Gammons Realty and it comes to the market shortly after the Town Council raised concerns about outstanding taxes to the tune of about $8,000.

DeJoy, in an interview, was furious about how the owed taxes were approached by the council, which opted to delay renewing the second hand dealer's license for Lina Piccolina at its meeting last month. The council used a provision in the license regulations that authorizes them to refuse license renewals for businesses housed in buildings with past due taxes, even if the tenants have zero ownership stake in the building.

"Nobody else does this," DeJoy said. "It's not fair to hold the tenants hostage for taxes they don't owe."

DeJoy said he's always paid his taxes, acknowledging that he sometimes did it at the last minute, but noting he always came in to pay before any tax sales.

DeJoy said it just is patently unfair to deny a tenant a business license if the owner of a property is in arrears on their taxes. He questioned the logic behind penalizing tenants who pay rent, which ultimately gives him the resources to pay his taxes, suggesting the predicament creates a catch-22 in which the penalty makes a positive outcome impossible.

The issue also cast a pall on his tenants, he said, with the owner of Lina Piccolina being thrust into an issue she had no awareness of, attaching her name to a problem she didn't create. He questioned whether the tactic was truly business friendly or reasonable, since the negative impact on the business flies in the face of council members' oft-repeated claim to want to encourage local economic growth.

"Now I have to scrape up the money to pay now or they're forcing my tenants out of the building," DeJoy said. "They've jacked up taxes on Main Street so high it has hamstrung business if you own a building and are leasing out to retail businesses."

DeJoy's situation isn't unique. He said at one point, the building employed more than 100 people "bringing in all sorts of revenue."

Meanwhile, he was running a mortgage business. People were shopping, money was flowing into the local economy and all seemed OK.

Then the Great Recession hit, his mortgage business collapsed and at the same time, taxes increased. DeJoy said his tax bill increased from about $8,000 annually to $15,000 since 2005.

It was a perfect storm of sorts and DeJoy said the converging factors made it difficult to invest in the building and keep it to a level that ensures stable tenants will keep rooted. 

Though he doesn't blame anyone for the the bad turn of the economy, DeJoy said council members' desire to find revenue everywhere they can has a downside and 58 Main Street is a perfect example.

"I always pay my taxes every year before they go to a tax sale" he said. "Now they want me to pay early. The old ordinance was never used or enforced. They just decided to enforce it that night they told my tenants the taxes have to paid now."

During the meeting, Council members in support of delaying the license renewal said it's unfair for other people who pay their taxes on time to let businesses behind on their taxes keep going.

The 6,200 square foot commercial building has 15 units of office and retail, on site parking and has an asking price of $629,000.
Class of 98 May 11, 2014 at 06:51 PM
Boo-hoo. He actually brags that he always paid up before it went to tax sale? Is he serious? And then says they want him to pay early? No, they want you to pay on time like 99% of people. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Bill Wray May 11, 2014 at 07:58 PM
I don't support the landlord's approach to paying taxes, and perhaps selling the building to a more responsible person could be a good thing. However, I do not believe that the council should be holding the tenant's license renewal hostage to the tax issue. The tenant is not liable for the taxes and we need as many thriving businesses as possible on Main Street. The town has other means of collecting on the taxes - even if this indirect approach is allowed legally, it does not mean that it is appropriate. Unless there is more to the story, this comes across as bullying an innocent third party.
Scrabbletown May 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM
This situation was handled badly by a lot of parties: the landlord for not paying his taxes; the TC for holding Lina Piccolina hostage for actions they have no control over; and the media for making it seem that Lino Piccolina was the one responsible for the bad taxes in many earlier reports. It would be a shame if a business is forced to close over this.

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