Clark Officials Say Latest Scam is Fueled by OPRA Regulations

f2cdf6897853295afc1d_ecc1ec23af1e7697b2f5_IMG_5459.jpg
The Township of Clark issued "no soliciting" stickers to residents. Call the Clerk's office for information on how to get one.
f2cdf6897853295afc1d_ecc1ec23af1e7697b2f5_IMG_5459.jpg

CLARK, NJ — Township officials have released a statement encouraging residents to exercise caution if they are approached by an individual or organization promising to help with property tax related issues for a fee.   

The Town of Clark is urging citizens to contact the Tax Collector's office with questions before agreeing to use the services provided as some of these solicitors are falsely implying they work for the township. The correspondence also reminds residents that the Open Public Records Act requires the township to provide ownership records and tax information about properties.

There was discussion of the challenges OPRA regulations  present on a township  level at a recent workshop meeting of the Town Council. During the meeting, Township Clerk, Edith Merkel shared information about why the OPRA act makes citizens vulnerable to scams and deceit.  

Sign Up for E-News

“It’s very disturbing, no one has any privacy anymore we have to give out all the tax records (to any party filing an OPRA request) and they want to know everyone that is delinquent, everyone who has been in a tax sale and some of these people have gone to people’s homes , with no license to solicit from door to door and they have claimed that they work for the Township of Clark and that these people are going to lose their home if they don’t sign up with them to help clear this up,” said Merkel.

Merkel said she and Clark’s Tax Collector Laura Caliguire have been working together on this problem.  According to Merkel, local police, Senator Scutari, Assemblyman Kennedy, the NJ Clerk’s Association and the NJ League of Municipalities have been notified of the situation. She confirmed that one of the attorney’s at the League of Municipalities will be speaking with Senator Weinburg, the originator of OPRA about the challenges for municipalities attending to these request.

“All we are really asking is to not have to give out the name and addresses (of homes with delinquent taxes etc…), if they want a block and lot and amount that is due, let them do the legwork and let them go online, not just we have to provide a list for them,” said Merkel.

Mayor Bonaccorso agreed with Merkel and had some strong words for members of state government and those that use OPRA to hide behind agendas.  

“I’ve worked in government, when you would ask for a document and got the run around for six months.   I am in favor of the transparency (OPRA), but the problem is the state government doesn’t have to comply, they can do whatever they want,” said Bonaccorso.  

“The fact that you can ask the governor what he settled the CWA contract for and he’s not telling anybody but we have to give out people’s business. It’s the same with these little scoundrels that want to play councilmen-to-be on elections that come under names of Concerned Clark Citizens looking in to stuff and the bottom line is you want open public records? Put your name on it, your address and give me your phone number and your welcome to anything we have.”

Merkel reminded citizens that no one is permitted to solicit in Clark without a license and to consider using the 'No Solicitation' signs distributed by the township on their doors to dissuade anyone from ringing their doorbell.

This is the letter distributed to citizens by the Township of Clark:

TO ALL CLARK TAX PAYERS: The Tax Office has been informed that Clark Residents are being contacted by outside agencies offering their services, for a fee, to bring Property Taxes Current, Redeeming Liens or Obtaining Refunds due to them.

These agencies are not associated with the Tax Collector’s office and are not authorized to solicit business door to door. Use your “No Soliciting” sticker to keep unwanted visitors off of your property.

State law requires the Township to provide tax documents under the Open Public Records Act, such as delinquent taxes/sewer, overpayment of taxes/sewer and Open Tax Lien information.

Be advised that the Tax Collector’s office WILL NOT come to your house or call you. All communication, regarding Property Taxes and/or Sewer Utility charges, will be communicated through regular mail delivery on Township of Clark Letterhead. YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO CONTACT THE TAX COLLECTOR’S OFFICE AT 732-428-8403 PRIOR TO ENTERING INTO ANY CONTRACT FOR SUCH SERVICES.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

Franklin Township: Tuesday Game Night Party - Family Style board and other games

June 24, 2018

A FUN NIGHT: A GAME NIGHT: A PARTY NIGHT: A SOCIAL AFFAIR.

SOMERSET, NJ - DNA's Music will be hosting its weekly 'Tuesday Game Night Party' at De Island Breeze at 676 Franklin Boulevard, doors open at 6:30 pm. 

Organizers say the weekly event is a night to socialize with friends while engaging in logical and strategic, or not so strategic games.

"This is not only a ...

Suspect in Union Carjacking Takes Own Life in Hillside

June 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – A Baltimore man ended up taking his own life in the Hillside Police Department after he was arrested for a suspected attempted carjacking in Union Friday afternoon.

The Maryland man, Jermaine Covington, 41, was arrested and used an officer’s service weapon to take his life, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Saturday.

Covington left the scene ...

'Luggage Factory' Could Be Hunterdon's First Pot Shop

RARITAN TWP., NJ – A question about opening a marijuana dispensary on Route 202-31 has prompted officials here to consider whether they want such businesses in the township.

An informal inquiry was made to the township’s Planning and Zoning Department about locating such a business in the former Luggage Factory building, Mayor Mike Mangin said at Tuesday’s Township Committee ...

Edison Police Seek Help Finding Missing 14-Year-Old

EDISON, NJ - A 14-year-old Edison girl who ran away from home on May 3 has yet to be found and police are asking anyone with information about her to come forward.

Edison detectives are leading a statewide search for the girl, Jalaysia Staplar-Evans. They believe she could be staying with friends or acquaintances in Newark or the Essex County area, said Edison Police Lt. Robert ...

Police Issue Alert for Missing New Brunswick Girl (FOUND)

Update: According to New Brunswick Police Department Capt. JT Miller, Tomesell has been located.  

NEW BRUNSWICK - Police today issued a plea for the public’s help in finding a missing 13-year-old girl.

Payton Tomesell, was last seen on Wednesday at 18 Abeel St., authorities said.

The girl suffers from anxiety and depression, and is taking medication, police ...

Bridgewater Police: Avoid Mall for Ongoing Police Investigation

UPDATE: According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall will be resuming normal business operations.

Police emphasized that there is no immediate threat to the public and no injuries were reported.

Keep checking back for more information.

Related article: Bridgewater Mall Shut Down ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Westfield Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

Read: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Talks Gun Violence, School Safety, ...

Suspect in Union Carjacking Takes Own Life in Hillside

June 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – A Baltimore man ended up taking his own life in the Hillside Police Department after he was arrested for a suspected attempted carjacking in Union Friday afternoon.

The Maryland man, Jermaine Covington, 41, was arrested and used an officer’s service weapon to take his life, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Saturday.

Covington left the scene ...

'Luggage Factory' Could Be Hunterdon's First Pot Shop

RARITAN TWP., NJ – A question about opening a marijuana dispensary on Route 202-31 has prompted officials here to consider whether they want such businesses in the township.

An informal inquiry was made to the township’s Planning and Zoning Department about locating such a business in the former Luggage Factory building, Mayor Mike Mangin said at Tuesday’s Township Committee ...

Edison Police Seek Help Finding Missing 14-Year-Old

EDISON, NJ - A 14-year-old Edison girl who ran away from home on May 3 has yet to be found and police are asking anyone with information about her to come forward.

Edison detectives are leading a statewide search for the girl, Jalaysia Staplar-Evans. They believe she could be staying with friends or acquaintances in Newark or the Essex County area, said Edison Police Lt. Robert ...

Hillsborough: Rain or Shine the Show Goes on at Sourland Music Festival

June 22, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The music always plays on at the Sourland Music Festival - rain or shine.

There is a chance of rain in Saturday's forecast, but the show will go on.

Organizers suggest Consider bringing a pop-up, umbrellas and towels with your beach chair and refillable water bottle. Rain did not dampen the spirits of 2017 Sourland Music Fest guests - it provided unplanned ...

Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity Opening ReStore in Manville

MANVILLE, NJ - Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity is opening a Habitat ReStore in the Marketplace at Manville, next to Walmart on North Main Street in Manville, this fall.

At the store, RVHFH will pick up gently used furniture and goods from Somerset and Hunterdon county residents, and give them a second life at the store's grand opening.

To schedule a time for RVHFH to pick ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Hillsborough: Rain or Shine the Show Goes on at Sourland Music Festival

June 22, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The music always plays on at the Sourland Music Festival - rain or shine.

There is a chance of rain in Saturday's forecast, but the show will go on.

Organizers suggest Consider bringing a pop-up, umbrellas and towels with your beach chair and refillable water bottle. Rain did not dampen the spirits of 2017 Sourland Music Fest guests - it provided unplanned ...

Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity Opening ReStore in Manville

MANVILLE, NJ - Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity is opening a Habitat ReStore in the Marketplace at Manville, next to Walmart on North Main Street in Manville, this fall.

At the store, RVHFH will pick up gently used furniture and goods from Somerset and Hunterdon county residents, and give them a second life at the store's grand opening.

To schedule a time for RVHFH to pick ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...