Warwick taxpayers confused over delinquency notices

About 23,000 notices like this one were sent to Warwick taxpayers warning they were late paying taxes.

The city of Warwick sent out 23,000 delinquency notices to taxpayers saying they owed the city money, when in some cases they did not.

The mayor said the confusion points to serious communications issues inside City Hall.

The letter began, "Dear taxpayer: Please note that there is a delinquent balance on your account."

"You were proven guilty before innocent," said Philip Picott, Warwick resident. "You have to hold them accountable."

Picott and other taxpayers in Warwick received the letters Friday afternoon when the tax collector was out of town, and no one at City Hall was answering the phone.

"A lot of running around and what I ended up doing was contacting the city myself. I couldn't get a hold of anyone at the tax assessor's office so I contacted the mayor's office," Picott said.

Picott, like most of the people who received the letter, was not delinquent on his taxes.

"Just a glitch in the Munis. It's called a Munis system," city Treasurer David Olsen said.

Olsen said the glitch has been fixed and that anyone who calls his office and proves that they paid their taxes won't owe the city any money.

But Mayor Scott Avedisian said he isn't OK with the letter Olsen wrote.

"If we knew the letters were going out, we would have done things a lot differently," Avedisian said.

"I'm not sure where this communication goes. I talked to both the finance director and the mayor's chief of staff about this," Olsen said.

"We have some internal issues that we need to talk to that division about so that we do not repeat that kind of error again," Avedisian said.

Picott said he agrees with Avedisian that communication inside City Hall has gone awry. He said that's shaking his confidence in the people handling public money.

"I knew more about what was going on with their account than they did," Picott said.

A spokeswoman said the city is trying to determine how many of the delinquency notices were incorrect.