November 18, 2008

City threatens lien over 1-cent bill

A 74-year-old blind Massachusetts woman says the city of Attleboro has threatened to put a lien on her home if she doesn't pay an outstanding bill of 1 cent.

Eileen Wilbur said she received a letter Nov. 10 stating that if the outstanding balance of one penny from a water and sewer bill from between July 2007 and July 2008 is not paid by Dec. 10, the city would impose a lien of up to $48 on her next property tax bill, the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported Tuesday.

It's so upsetting, Wilbur said. It sent my blood pressure up so high.

They wasted taxpayer money on the letter, she said, pointing out the 42-cent stamp charge.

City Collector Debora Marcoccio said the letter was one of more than 2,000 sent automatically by computer to residents with overdue payments.

It would be fiscally irresponsible for me to have staff weed through the bills and pull out any below a certain amount, Marcoccio said. And what would that amount be?

Wilbur's daughter, Rose Brederson, said despite her mother's anger about the situation, she will likely pay the 1 cent to avoid the penalty.

The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous, she said.