Sunday, February 14, 2016

Decade-long battle over unpaid taxes and liens continues for Camden youth performing arts nonprofit

After a decade of fighting Camden over outstanding tax liens it claims are unfair, Unity Community Center, the city's award-winning youth performing-arts group, finally celebrated a victory last week. But the joy might not last long. What they thought would be a $5,000 bill at most is now a $67,000 bill to be paid within 60 days if the state approves the city's move.

Decade-long battle over unpaid taxes and liens continues for Camden youth performing arts nonprofit

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After a decade of fighting Camden over outstanding tax liens it claims are unfair, Unity Community Center, the city's award-winning youth performing-arts group, finally celebrated a victory last week.

But the joy might not last long.

At last week's City Council meeting, President Frank Moran, following the lead of Councilman Brian Coleman, initiated "canceling interest and fees" for the tax liens on 1427 and 1429 Haddon Ave., a 7,000-square-foot property intended to be a multipurpose arts center for the nationally recognized group.

The previous $223,811 balance would be dropped to $5,000, Moran said.

The verbal resolution passed unanimously, with each council member praising the grassroots organization, which has taken Camden youth all over the world to perform. Known for its Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble and performers, the center is housed out of a tiny storefront on Mount Ephraim Avenue.

The decision "made me so happy," Robert Dickerson, founder of the center, said last week. "It regenerated my spirits."

But the written resolution subsequently drafted by city attorneys left the center to pay, within 60 days, a balance for back taxes and utility bills of $67,000.

"I don't know how that got passed," Dickerson said Monday after learning about the resolution's exact language. "We're definitely going to appeal."

... Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Allison Steele
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