Wayne Co. turns down $1,700 in delinquent taxes due to new law

Wayne County turns down $1,700 in delinquent taxes due to new law

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Ladonia Gill's welding business in Detroit Ladonia Gill's welding business in Detroit
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Steve Harmon says God brought him and his wife to an old car wash on Van Dyke in Detroit. Four years ago they worked out a deal. Pay the back taxes on the building and it's yours. It's now home to Bikers for Christ and Ladonia Gill's mobile welding business.

It is also their home. They park their five wheeler inside.

"Because of the area, if you're not here, they rob you blind," Gill said.

They are proud of their businesses and home, but could lose it all. They said they went to the Wayne County Treasurer's Office to pay their delinquent taxes, missing the extended deadline by just a few days, but were turned away.

"I said, 'Well, I'll pay it all off.' I handed him the $1,700. They pushed it back through the window. They said, 'It's impossible.' I started crying. I [said], 'Why not?' They said, 'And it's not only you. It's 6,000 people,'" Harmon explained.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous. I'm trying to give you $1,700. If you're broke, I would take it," Gill said.

It's hard to imagine Wayne County, which is struggling financially, would turn any money down. Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski said it comes down to a new state law that gives local communities a month to decide if they want to buy thousands of foreclosed properties, and the county can't interfere. If no one scoops them up by July 30, the owners can work with Wayne County to get them back.

"The clock hasn't run out, but it has stopped for a period of time here. We're going to start it up again, but that's why we tell these taxpayers please come in, work with us. When they wait this long, they just have to wait a little bit longer," Szymanski said.

The county said it is taking names of property owners and plans to contact them after the deadline is up.

Meanwhile, if the property is sold, this couple said they will be gone for good.

"I'll go back to the suburbs, and then my money will also go back to the suburbs," Gill said.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can go to the Wayne County Treasurer's website or to the office and fill out a contact information form. If your property isn't sold by July 30, the treasurer's office will contact you sometime in August to try to work something out.

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