Who should be collecting back real estate taxes on behalf of the city?
Councilwoman Marian Tasco raised that issue today in Council with a blistering speech criticizing the Nutter administration for allowing a New Jersey based collection agency to pursue delinquent property taxes. Tasco said a Center City law firm hired by the city to collect some taxes has sub-contracted with the New Jersey firm XSPAND, which she says uses predatory lending tactics.
“I am so angry I can hardly speak,” Tasco said. “I want to know from our City Solicitor why this transaction was allowed.”
Mayor Nutter said the city would review the business practices of the firm. But he said the city’s priority was getting the money owed.
“As long as we’re getting done what we need to get done and collecting the dollars we need to collect, that’s our primary focus and point,” he said.
A little research on XSPAND reveals that this is a company founded by former New Jersey governor James Florio, which buys up municipal tax liens and then turns a profit by charging tax delinquents hefty service fees and interest rates. The company, a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase, applied for a city contract earlier this year, but failed to receive it.
The law firm that subcontracted with XSPAND is Goehring, Rutter and Boehm.