Virginia citizens irate after treasurer publishes list of delinquent taxpayers in newspaper

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PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Petersburg residents and businesses are angry after being publicly called out for owing property taxes. Their were names published in the city's main newspaper this weekend.

"Its my job to collect the delinquent taxes, yes," said City Treasurer Kevin Brown. "I'm in my right mind, doing the legal stuff that I am supossed to do, there is nothing that I am doing that is outside of the code of Virginia."

Residents in Petersburg say now was not the time for the treasurer to further anger a city that is already divided against its city leaders.

"You know, the city is going through a whole lot, and the mayor is going through a whole lot that he decided that I am going to put the citizens of Petersburg's business in the newspaper, and I don't think that is fair," said Clothilda Hill, a resident of Petersburg.

The Treasurer says he understands the frustration, but …

"Oh, its definitely the right time being $10,000,000 in the hole," Brown said. "We just couldn't wait. And (as for the other situations, we didn't have a problem with people not receiving their real estate bills nor their personal property bills, I understand the water bills situation, but you were receiving your real estate bills,  you were receiving your personal property bills, and we have got to collect the money."

Brown says that $10,000,000 is roughly 10 percent of the city budget, but residents remain infuriated that this is what the collection process has come to.

"I was very upset about it, very very upset about it. Me and my wife both, we couldn't describe our feelings to have our business pretty much put out there. I felt like it was an invasion of privacy," said Paul Fletcher, a resident of Petersburg.

The ad the city took out in the paper to publish these names took up 41 pages, costing the city $21,000. They plan to recoup that by charging everyone whose name appeared $20 to their already late bills. The treasure also says he plans to publish an updated list of names every quarter.