Judge gives Kalamazoo County green light to sell woman’s home after property tax mistake

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KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. -- A Kalamazoo County judge has sided with county officials in a dispute where a Richland woman says her home is being seized over a property tax mistake.

FOX 17 first talked with Deborah Calley in mid-September, when she told us she lost her home after she accidentally missed a property tax payment of roughly $2,000 in 2011.   She paid $164,000 in cash for the home in 2010.

Having no mortgage on the home, Calley says she simply forgot to make the payment.  She also claims she wasn't properly notified about it.

“When I paid the taxes in 2012 right there in Richland, no one said, ‘Oh, well, you still owe money for 2011,'”Calley said in September. “So I didn’t really have a clue. I thought I was right on time.”

Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Gary Giguere, Jr.'s ruling agrees with what county officials told FOX 17 from the beginning: that the county was only following the law: "...the Court finds that the numerous and varied forms of notice the Petitioner used to notify Defendant [Calley] pursuant to the GPTA  [General Property Tax Act] were reasonably calculated to apprise her of the foreclosure proceedings," Giguere's court ruling reads.

Other documents obtained by FOX 17 showed that several notices were sent out from the county treasurer’s office over the last year, but Calley said she didn’t see a single one.

FOX 17's Jessica McMaster reported that 10 certified notices were sent out.  However, only one was addressed to Calley. The others were sent to banks.

Calley says she never received the letter addressed to her home.  County officials claim they also sent standard letters in the mail notifying her of the missed payment, but she said she didn't receive those either.

"She had two minor daughters at the time that could’ve been home," Calley's attorney Ven Johnson said. "The county doesn’t know if they gave it to a minor.”

Johnson says that the county is going to resell the house for roughly $80,000.

"Subtract the approximate $2,000 Deb owes them for taxes and fees and penalties, and they are going to make an $80,000 profit on a home that they didn't own," he said.

Both Johnson and Calley's realtor Becky Doorlag say she is more than willing to pay the missed payment.

“She’ll pay it today if they’ll let her,” Doorlag told FOX 17 in our original report. “The government will take her home — the only thing that she has that she owns that’s paid off free and clear. That is her future and her retirement and her kids’ future."

"Deb Calley is one of their own constituents," Johnson said. "She is a tax-paying person who made a mistake.  That was $2,000 of a mistake.  Take her money, give her house back."

Calley believes that the foreclosure is a harsh punishment  for missing one payment.

“To take my $164,000 house over less than $2,000, I would say that’s extremely excessive,” Calley said. “If I had a mortgage, a bank never would’ve let that happen. It was a mistake. My life has been turned upside down because of this.”

Ven Johnson said they have 21 days to make an official appeal.  He added that the county can sell the home, but if the appeal is successful they would be forced to give the home back.

Some information in this report was taken from earlier stories by FOX 17's Jessica McMaster

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  • Rebecca

    It’s just sickening instead of working it out they take this woman’s home for 2 grand that’s a shame the city should hang their heads down for this the judge is no better no heart !

    • Brian B Calderone

      This country was founded when American Patriots refused to pay taxes.
      Why aren’t the local patriots, libertarians, and occupy groups organizing sit-ins and or other protests?
      Here, in Pennsylvania, more than 83 grassroots taxpayer advocacy groups have been fighting [under the banner of the PCTA = Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Associations] to get the Property Tax Independence Act (SB/HB76) passed/enacted. Among other things, this act restores True property ownership and abolishes the school board’s and therefore the government’s authority to leave you homeless.
      Look it up via http://www.ptcc.us

    • josephlamarca@hotmail.com


  • Thomas

    Just because it’s “legal”, doesn’t make it right. The judge could very easily have said no to this. This is nothing more than government theivery. Not sure if the judges in MI are elected or not,(I recently moved here) but if they are, people should look at their actions and vote appropriately.

    • Barbara LeBouton West

      That is an incredibly stupid thing to say.A woman who owns a home outright and has the money is NOT going to miss a $2000 payment on purpose.If your office wasn’t so stupid you could have MENTIONED the missing payment when she came in to pay her last tax bill.Of course..sending letters to a NON EXISTANT lender really doesn’t help.She needs a decent attorny..one who actually understands property tax law…I think I may know the ONLY one!

    • JP

      Okay, so she neglected to pay the tax. So this is punishment? I thought the point was tax revenue. If that’s the case, she’s willing to pay. And my guess is she’s willing to pay from now one. The county’s interest is salvaged if you give her the home back. This is about government exerting power. But then again, all taxation is. It’s disgusting.

  • bd

    how can you not realize that you didn’t pay a $2000.00 bill???!!!!!! Either she has more money than she knows what to do with and wouldn’t realize there was an extra 2k in an account, or she missed it, knew she did and didn’t want to pay it. I’m thinking option 2.

  • flip

    it should never have gotten this far.if the people of Kalamazoo County cannot step up and stop this all businesses in the county should be and the that’s what they get for being stupid. and yes my sentence structure sucks I don’t care

  • flip

    they wouldn’t dare try that the Reverend brothers would be here in a heartbeat and every Walmart between here and Cadillac would be looted

  • simple Sam

    I’ve read other stories about this. this lady was in a bad car accident and when she went to pay her 2012 bill the township didn’t tell her she still owed from 2011, the bill that Kalamazoo County used to foreclose on her. why would she pay a bill in 2012 if she didn’t want to pay her taxes? she would be throwing money away! it’s only logical to realize that this women was not properly notified of the forecloser and that she tried to make it right. Th circuit court judge, the County Treasurer and all other parties involved are part of a good old boys network, which is now being investigated at the highest level for potential corruption and misuse of power. wrongdoing has already been found during that investivation and will be brought to light at the proper time. Ms. Calley will be made whole and the ring of corruption in our local government will be exposed. It’s time for a change. We cannot afford to have people in power who go after the widows and disparaged amongst us. The tax forecloser law was written to eliminate blighted property, not steal houses out from under families in our communities. It is also disengenuous for the Mary Balkma to say that they only made $55,000 from the sale of “their” properties they gained via tax foreclosure. county officials are getting big bonuses and using these stolen properties to get those bonuses and help their bottom lines. Kalamazoo County government still has a pension system. these pensions are causing huge unfunded liabilities for us the taxpayer. it’s time for reform in Kalamazoo County government. they forget who they work for. they are looking after their interests, like Balkema excavating and other private businesses with ties to County officials. It’s time for this misuse of power and corruption to be exposed.

    • Pam Ragland

      She should appeal and file a lis Pendens to tie up the home. Also it cannot be legal for them to keep the excess that is not owed. That is I believe called conversion and her attorney should sue them separately if they do sell.

    • Kimmie

      Simple Sam, I agree with you. I was investing in thumb area real estate back in 2008 and 2009 when in early 2010 shtt hit the fan for my parents. I am still fighting that mess and the countless hours and amount of money I have spent to try and get the court to even READ my motions and briefs was all for nothing. An opinion that normally would take upwards of 30 days was rendered in less than 24 hours and in the mail and guess what, it wasn’t a win for us! I have them! Very strong case! Would take Kim v JPMC and shred their assignment argument to bits and THEY ALL KNOW IT HERE. To take it all the way to the Supreme Court would devastate us financially as it has already taken a toll. How far should I take my case for justice for every homeowner in this state when we can get no help and are dealing with this HUGE CONSPIRACY – How the hell are they doing it? The press reads from script and is required to stick to the script but EVERYONE knows and has heard SOMETHING. We are being programmed and only allowed to hear about basically… murders and racism, COME ON, REALLY???? As long as we maintain this separation of communication between citizens I can guarantee this will never end. WE ARE ON OUR OWN UNLESS WE UNITE JUST LIKE THEY HAVE UNITED, systematically! Watch those news anchors very carefully. They do try to get things through the cracks, I have witnessed it myself. Pay attention folks, this involves you, your children and all the way up and down your family tree. ELECT INTELLIGENTLY. Please lord, bless and keep us all!!!

  • Bitter Reality (@99BitterReality)

    The entire city council and so called “judge” (more like a drooling clown in a funny wig), should all be tarred feathered and set on fire. Not even one of them worth a bucket of manure.
    Until the psychopathic judges are held personally accountable for their treason it will continue forever.

    A personal karma visit fixes the problem permanently.

  • John C. Randolph

    The judge should have thrown this out on the basis of the constitutional prohibition on excessive fines. He is incompetent to practice law, much less sit on the bench.


  • KTM

    Liberals want more government, thinking that government is their friend. But the reality is that government is one of the most ruthless entities that people have to deal with. This is just one of many examples where people have spent an entire life being a good citizen, only to have their life turned into a shambles by bureaucrats.

  • NoName

    You never truly own a home in this country. It’s sickening. This is down right thievery. I’d burn the place down before handing it over.

  • carger John

    When the Book of Life is read, these individuals will suffer the consequences of their acts. We will all be judged upon our acts in this life. I would not want to be looking into the eyes of God explaining why I did this to someone just because I could.
    Charger John

  • RJ O'Guillory

    …the Judge, The City Council and the local relators need to be investigated for RICO Violations…(conspiracy to commit a crime)…and charged with treason as well…convict them and hang them in the town square…as soon as possible….
    RJ O’Guillory
    Webster Groves – The Life of an Insane Family

  • Neo

    So the homeowner claims she was never notified of any late or unpaid taxes owing and the county claims they sent out letters. The story doesn’t make any claims that she accepted a certified letter or properly served with legal notice. If the county can’t prove that the homeowner was properly served then the county losses. However, the fact that the county stands to make a tidy profit and the county judge represents the county and should have recused himself this is obviously a fraudulent scam and a conspiracy to commit fraud under the RICO statutes. The judge should be taken out and hung from the nearest tree to his courthouse.

  • julie

    This lady needs a conservator. She is not competent. They shouldn’t be able to take her home if she’s not competent to take care of her legal responsibilities.

  • Steve A.

    We lost ownership of real property starting in the mid-1800s when the first property tax bill was sent and paid. This was the death of the allodial title
    .ANYTHING on which a tax is levied repeatedly IS NOT YOURS.
    If you do not believe this, just stop paying it on anything and you will eventually learn who really owns it when they take it from you.

  • Lousander Feen

    Wait a minute… She owns her home outright but has to pay rent on it to the country? Government claims to own everything within the arbitrary lines of its thiefdom.
    Taxation is theft and the state is a gang of thieve writ large.

  • Jerilyn Kimner

    “FOX 17’s Jessica McMaster reported that 10 certified notices were sent out. However, only one was addressed to Calley. The others were sent to banks.” Now why on Earth would the county send banks notices when the property has no mortgage. The lady paid cash. I smell a RAT

  • Tahoe

    Michigan is one of the only states that allows government to keep proceeds over and above taxs owned. The residents need to fight and have this changed..

  • Kathy

    I cannot understand why this could not have been resolved without taking away Deborah Calley’s home. Judge Gary Giguere Jr. is a disgrace to the entire state of Michigan, and assuming now this is probably going national it leaves a hellish invitation to move to this state. This is wrong, and I am outraged that this could happen. It is obvious if she continued to pay taxes since 2011, this was a mistake. It’s greed, politics, and no respect for this homeowner.

  • Brian B Calderone

    If you already have not done so, I urge you to tell everyone you know who lives in Pennsylvania to join the crusade to eliminate the school property taxes via The PCTA (Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Associations). Check us out via www ptcc us