Kalamazoo Co. officials say home foreclosure is out of their control after woman’s property tax mistake

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KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. -- A Kalamazoo County woman continues to fight for her home after she missed a property tax payment, and a county attorney says the foreclosure is out of their control.

The debt, initially less than $2,000, is from a single missed payment from 2011. Deborah Calley said she has the money and wants to pay.

"When you have sunk your whole life savings and your whole family's future into a piece of property it shouldn't be able to go away over less than $2,000," Calley said.

However, Thom Canny, corporate counsel for Kalamazoo County, said it's too late and that the case is out of his hands.

"In this case we followed the statute and pursuing foreclosure is appropriate," Canny said.

Canny said several notices were sent to Calley's home warning her that foreclosure would take place. He showed FOX 17 a record of first class mail that was sent to the home since summer of 2013.

Calley's attorney, Ven Johnson with Ven Johnson Law, says the process to foreclosure was not properly handled. He said part of the statute is to also send certified mail, adding that only one of ten of those notifications went to Calley's address.   That notice was returned to sender.

"The county admitted in this case, under oath I might add Jessica, that the certified mail that was sent to Deb's house came back," Johnson said. "In other words, she never accepted it.  So, that means that the county knows it wasn't successful."

That's not the only discrepancy, according to Johnson.    A signed affidavit shows county treasurer Mary Balkema and deputy treasurer Greg Vlietstra visited her home and personally delivered notice of foreclosure. However in a video obtained by FOX 17, Calley can be seen representing herself during a hearing. While questioning Vlietstra as to who he handed that letter to, he admits he met Calley for the first time in his office after that delivery was made.

When Calley asks Vlietstra who he handed the documents to he responded by saying, "As I stated previously, I don't have a recollection for that property."

Canny said that not being able to recall who these types of notices are handed to is not uncommon.

"They don't know who they handed the letter to because they visit a couple of hundred properties during the course of the foreclosure process," he  said.

Confusion over who the notice was handed to is an issue that Johnson said is important to the case.

"Deb's already sworn under oath that it wasn't her," Johnson said. "She had two minor daughters at the time that could've been home. The county doesn't know if they gave it to a minor."

Canny said, while the county is required to give personal notice, it can include taping the letter to the door or handing it to someone at the home. He said it doesn't have to be given to the owner.

"They just record that they were there--they talked to somebody who appeared to be responsible," Canny said.

Calley said there's no doubt it's all because of one big mistake.

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

Records show Calley made two payments in 2011, but because she lived in the Village of Richland, she also owed a third payment to them, which is the one she missed.

After airing Calley's story on Monday, hundreds of people began commenting on the FOX 17 Facebook page.

Matt Coady wrote, "This just makes me sick to my stomach for this poor lady. A year behind ($2000.00) and the law is that you take this ladies 164000 home sell it and keep the proceeds. Nice. I'm glad I don't have that job. That's unconscionable."

That seems to resonate with Calley.

"Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks, 'How could this happen?' So, I started to think maybe it is about the money," Calley said.

The county could earn quite a bit of money off Calley's mistake. Not only do they get the roughly $2,000 she owes in taxes, they also get to keep the profit from the auction. That could net more than $80,000.  That's about what one bidder paid before asking for his money back.

Calley paid more than $160,000 cash for the home.

Still, the county attorney said the process to notify Calley met standards set by state law.  When we asked Canny if the safe guards to notify people of foreclosure were error-proof he said, "I would say they're never 100 percent and if somebody raises a question we look at it."

In Calley's case, Canny said they have looked into it, adding he's sure there's nothing more they can do because the foreclosure has already taken place.

However, Calley's attorney strongly disagrees.

"This is an absolute abuse of power by the Kalamazoo County Treasurer's Office," Johnson said. "This is a civil proceeding. This can be set aside by an agreement between the lawyers with the approval of the judge. All the judge cares about is that everything's done legally and fairly. If Deb were to pay her taxes and the county were to agree to set aside the foreclosure all would be fine."

The fate of Calley's house will soon rest in the hands of a Kalamazoo County judge.

"It was a mistake. My life has been turned upside down because of this," Calley said. "I had to send my youngest daughter, who's still in school to live with her father so she can have a home, because I don't know if I have a home anymore."

The Association of Michigan County Treasurers is passing along tips to homeowners. It said when it comes to paying property taxes an owner has three years until a missed payment will make it legal for the county to take your home. A winter bill should arrive the week of Dec. 1. As for the summer, a homeowner will receive their bill the week of July 1. If either notice fails to show up, AMCT suggests calling the local county treasurers department.

AMCT also suggests if a homeowner gets notice of foreclosure, that they act on it before anything is finalized.

In Calley's case, she claims notices were not received. The judge will reach a decision in the case at the beginning of October.



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  • Dale Ehrhart

    Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.

    –Luke 20:46-47

    And in all likely hood these Kalamazoo County Officials call themselves Christians. Some people have called them economic terrorists. I don’t think they’re terrorists, but perhaps they could do something in to prove they’re not.

    • STFU

      Hating Christians is very fashionable, equating them to terrorists is asinine.
      None of that “tolerance” stuff for you..right?
      Salon misses their hater..

      • Poe

        I didn’t see that conflation. Rather, I think the post was pointing out potential hypocrisy, should the county officials think that they are indeed Christian. In fact, the quotation from Luke suggests that the county officials are being accused of fetishizing the law, at the expense of Christian mercy. Btw, I am not a Christian – I just thought your take on the OP was not generous.

      • Dee Kay

        Christians, in this country, are in the overwhelming majority. Surely your god will protect you from the “haters”, however “fashionable” you believe them to be–or else you should pick another religion. When a minority viewpoint is too much for you to handle, you become intolerant. Gratz on your supposed humanity; you are the reason nonbelievers have a problem with so many fundie christians.

  • martyinkzo

    So if I don’t accept my certified mail, they can never take my property ? Is that what her attorney says ? Because the Michigan Supreme Court (and the US Supreme Court too, in Jones v. Flowers)has disagreed with that for the past … ohhhh … 100 years or so. Given that these were 2011 taxes and a dozen or so tax bills, statements, invoices, notices, letters, reminders, visits, newspaper ads and other efforts were made for 2 1/2 years …. the argument that “only one notice” was ever sent seems a little unbelievable. Not claiming your certified mail does not negate your bills, folks.

    • What?

      Wait…are you the Marty that owns Title Check? The company in previous reports that signed for these tax notices? Seems like you have a motive in discrediting this women’s story…..

  • cldegraaff

    I’m sure glad that when I mistakenly missed a tax payment one year my home still had a large mortgage on it. It sounds like the county would have gone after my house if it had been owned free and clear instead of giving me several years to catch up on the back taxes. When I went into the office to pay my property taxes, BTW, they let me pay the current taxes and never mentioned that there were taxes owing from the previous year. Nor did I ever receive a certified letter regarding this issue, either. It gets confusing paying county and township taxes to different locations at different times of the year. Someone with brain injuries might have some trouble with that.I find the lack of humanity towards a disabled person to be astounding and horrifying. To dismiss this as “all in the interest of serving justice” is ludicrous, no justice will be accomplished by making this family homeless.

  • turnbuckle47

    Notices sent to her at her home address just starting from 2013:

    First Class Mailings:

    Certified Notice:
    February 2013 (Certified Notice of Pending Forfeiture)
    December 2013 (Certified Notice of Pending Judicial Foreclosure)

    In addition to a notice being delivered personally to someone at the home in August 2013.

    In addition to her and this property being listed in the Kalamazoo Gazette for a few consecutive weeks in the Winter of 2013.

    None of the first class notices came back to the sender.
    The certified notice came back only after the post office made several attempts to get a signature from her. The address on the notice was good, the process was thorough. She’s also late on other property taxes still…so while the foreclosure was for “1 missed payment”, she’s perpetually late on her property taxes. If she’s unable to manage her taxes due to an accident she should have a guardian handling her affairs for her. If she can’t manage that she should have never been able to purchase a home from the realtor in the first place. Why sell a home to a person who is unable to understand or remember her taxes unless she has a guardian/power of attorney?

    Her accident was in 2008; she bought the home in 2010.

    This is a one-sided article that obscures many of the facts. A fluff piece taking advantage of an unfortunate situation and using it as a salvo against the government following due process.

    She had 3 years to pay. She was aware. She is late on other tax payments. She’s aware. Don’t fall for this article…

    • Bill in IL

      I am so glad you are willing to send other armed men, not yourself of course, to steal this disabled woman’s home. I am so glad you are a sociopath with no moral compass and no conscious. To stand by approvingly while the government takes this house and steals another $78,000.00 on top of what they claim they are “owed” is more than disgusting. Taxation IS theft, period. Property tax is one of the most heinous of all, it means you do NOT own your home, you are renting it from the government, the real owner. This woman is disabled with severe brain injuries, not a tax protester trying to prove a point and you would see her in the street along with her daughter, what a nice person you are!

    • GovSuks

      I don’t care HOW MANY notices were sent – it still doesn’t give the government the right to take someones home that they own free and clear. What – cause government does so much good things for everyone, they are allowed to STEAL someone’s home for $2000???? WTF, $2000 is likely about what they pay your sorry, lazy good for nothing ass for pretending to “work” for what, a week? Nice, she goes homeless so Kalamazoo can keep a scum bag losser employed for a week! Yeah, that seems rigt to me. You should be utterly ashamed for trying to justify nothing more than theft – the government doesn’t have the right to everything it thinks it does – I hope you are homeless someday scumbag – and that some spits on you when you are at your lowest point.

    • C S Gregg

      You have access to way too many what I would consider personal details that one would normally expect to be confidential. What gives you the right to publish these? Is your intent honorable or is it an unprofessional “gotcha?”
      It is an unkind example of man’s inhumanity to man. I realize we live in an increasingly ugly world but seriously is this action against this woman truly, truly necessary? Is Kalamazoo, like Detroit, so bankrupt? You have undeniably proved to be morally bankrupt that much is completely clear.

    • Michael Keudel

      Only 1 out of those 10 notices were addressed to the lady, the others were addressed to Banks in the County, NONE of which held a mortgage since the House was paid for in Cash. She has been trying to pay the taxes, she has the cash, and they will not take it, that to me is theft. They have the clerks confession stating she supposedly hand delivered the notice to her, and in the same confession admits she only met her for the first time when she came to her office to try and fix the problem. I’m sorry, thats not notification of a problem thats easily fixed.

    • kjmclark

      You should read the previous story. 9 of the 10 letters went to banks that she had no relation with. The tenth had her address but was returned to the assessor marked undeliverable. Fox17 was shown all ten and verified that the addresses were wrong or were not actually received. Why should we trust you on this situation?

      • turnbuckle47

        This is part of what makes this article terribly sourced.

        42 notices were sent for this parcel about the taxes, forfeiture, and pending foreclosure from February 2013 through March 2014.
        8 of those notices were addressed to Calley at this property. A 9th was delivered to the home personally.
        People keep saying only 1 out of 10 went to Calley. *In addition to the 9 notices Calley received over the course of a year from the County* notices were also sent to a mortgage company. The reason the mortgage company received notice was because the previous owner held a mortgage in which the mortgage company hadn’t, at the time of the delinquency, recorded a discharge. This happens frequently, and sometimes the warranty deed will stipulate whether or not the deed is pursuant to the mortgage. But without a recorded discharge it’s not always safe to assume.

        People are getting angry at some here posting more information about the story. Telling me or others that we’re heartless and that our day is coming. All I’m doing is revealing more of the story. I’m not celebrating someone losing their property. I’m merely stating that the article portrays the story in a light that would upset anyone.

        Not that it matters, but my parents have been through tax forfeiture before. If not for the mortgage company foreclosing first, my parents would have lost the home due to taxes. My brother is currently receiving notices from Calhoun County about his delinquent 2012 property taxes. I’ve helped two friends that were also in the same boat. And I’ve been working within the field of title research and Michigan property taxes for…well…today is actually my 13th anniversary since starting this career.

        Not only did Deb miss her 2011 tax payment, but 2012, 2013 and 2014.
        This is public information for anyone wanting to look for it.

        I’m not hateful or spiteful. Pointing out other details gives a better picture of what actually happened here.

        The judge extended the period for her to show cause as to why she couldn’t pay. If it’s a medical reason as laid out in the article, she should have a doctor and attorney help her make that case. The original show cause hearing was in January or February of 2014; the show cause period had been extended to September 19th 2014. Instead of attempting to show cause before a judge she and her realtor approached the news with a 1-sided narrative. The news is an invaluable tool, but the reporting on this case has been negligent.

        • Sam Sobriquet

          Let’s assume everything you say is true. It is still absolutely and totally wrong for a county to be able to seize an asset of this size to satisfy such a small delinquency. She claims to have paid $164,000 for this property and that the tax delinquency is roughly $2,000. That means they are seizing an asset worth 8400% more than what they are currently owed! Even at the bargain basement sale price of $80,000, that is 4000% more than what is owed. Loan sharks have nothing on Kalamazoo county it would seem. If a mortgage company did this to satisfy an unpaid debt, it would most definitely be considered usury and would therefore be illegal. Just because it is somehow the law, doesn’t make it right.

          I hope that the judge will grant this woman relief by letting her pay her delinquent taxes. It is obvious that this travesty of a tax law should be changed immediately. There have been a lot of laws on the books in the past that are now considered wrong and just sitting back and saying that there’s no problem here other than the reporting on the story just doesn’t cut it.

          • Elena Carlena

            I agree, Sam. Turnbuckle, I appreciate the further information regarding what you’re about, but you and the others posting here who seem to work for government are getting way too hung up on the victim’s “flaws” and what is “legal.” What everyone else is saying is, it doesn’t matter. She wants to pay the bill now and no one will let her. The government can charge a reasonable rate of interest for their time and trouble. The punishment is WAY disproportionate to the “crime.” She should not lose her house over this. In many jurisdictions, she would not. The law, perhaps in Michigan as a whole, perhaps only in Kalamazoo County, is way too harsh and needs to be changed. To take over $100,000 of value from her because she owes a little money and didn’t jump through the legal hoops is grand theft committed by the government. It is an un-Constitutional violation of the 8th Amendment, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Besides which, government of the people should have a heart. Maybe she still has health problems. Maybe she’s just been overwhelmed. Maybe she’s a terrible person, but it doesn’t solve anything to be draconian in response. We can’t know what’s in her heart. So give her the benefit of the doubt. For heaven’s sake, take the offered money and settle it.

        • Joyce Vradenburg

          How can people lie about Michigan Taxes. I was almost three years behind mine in Moncalm County, and they even helped me out. I am disable, and out of work, but these people , I owed more than 3,000 and I own my home also paid in full. Fox news I don’t know about you?

    • Jill

      I work in a county treasurer’s office and I have the papercuts to prove we fold and stuff delinquent tax notices every 3 months! As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to make sure your taxes are paid. Just as you know on your birthday, you need to make sure your car is tagged even if you don’t receive a notice from the Secretary of State. If you go to a restaurant and they don’t bring you a bill when you are done eating, can you just walk out without paying? Most people would ASK for their bill. I feel bad for this lady, but she DID receive notices.

      • Elena Carlena

        If I went to a restaurant and they didn’t bring me the bill, if I couldn’t find someone then yes, I would walk out without paying. Something similar happened to me once. There was a private party elsewhere so those in the main dining room were left alone for very long periods of time (not only did my waiter disappear, everyone who worked there did). I gave them 30 minutes. Someone returned in 25, so I paid. If they hadn’t, I wasn’t going to wait any longer. They can’t expect me to accommodate them forever. And if they tracked me down later, I would explain what happened and pay the bill. I would not expect to lose my property, freedom, or life over it. It’s a small bill. Do you believe in the United States Constitution? Here’s the 8th Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Government of the people should have a heart in any case. Where do you work? What’s your penalty for unpaid taxes? Do you get to charge someone 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars if they owe you several hundred to a few thousand? What many people on this site are saying is, ultimately it doesn’t matter what she did or did not do. Taking her house is extremely excessive. Why not charge a reasonable rate of interest and let her pay that now? It seems like the government is acting like authoritarian jackrumps because they think it’s okay, like cops using excessive force because they’ve been “disrespected,” and/or the government is unwilling to compromise because they want all that money.

        • Marc

          Elena, if you came into my restaurant and did not see a wait staff after eating your meal and you didn’t go and look for a manager and walked out, I would have you arrested for stealing. Think about what you are saying. You sound terribly immature. The world is not built around you and your needs.

          • Elena Carlena

            For most of the evening, there was no manager. Nobody. We were left without service. Everyone had already been looking for someone to complain to. You think I’m going to sit there for 30 minutes after my meal is done and not be looking for a manager? Of course we did. You want me to go into the kitchen and ask the chef? Most places that’s illegal because it’s unsafe. If you tried to have me arrested, I would ask to have you arrested for kidnapping, expecting us to sit around held hostage until someone finally comes to provide bills. I would have welcomed the cops. That entire dining room was full of angry former customers (none of us ever ate there again) of all ages. I’m sure a lot of people would not have given it 30 minutes. Some people did walk out before me, but their actions are not my business. As manager, you wouldn’t call the cops because you were off servicing the big party and ignoring all the little parties. They didn’t care what we did. How long is long enough to wait? An hour? All evening? If the cops did arrive, they would probably try to defuse the situation, ask us to pay, but also give management a severe tongue lashing. They’d know it would be dismissed in court if it got that far. You think a jury of our peers would have blamed us for walking out? Dream on. The cops probably wouldn’t arrest anybody, all that paperwork for nothing. The world may not be built around me, but if you are in business, you had better build your service around your customers’ needs or you won’t have customers. I hope you don’t work with the public. America doesn’t need to be built around the false entitlement needs of the rich either. That’s the problem with people like you, you think you have the power so you can mistreat people and we should bow to your whims. Not going to happen.

          • Marc

            @Elena Carlena, Obviously you have a problem dealing with the real world and reality. I do work with the public every day and I make a lucrative income. Let me try to explain some things that are pertain to the real world. If you do a dine and dash, you will go to prison. If you don’t believe me, ask any of my several friends who own restaurants. If you don’t pay your bills/taxes, you can be sued, utilities/services discontinued, wages garnished, cars repossessed and homes will go through a foreclosure. After reading your comment, I am more inclined to believe this woman did receive ample notice(s) and was given enough chances to get her affairs in order but chose not to. This is the government we are dealing with. They will look everywhere to find you. When I was in college, I received a phone call asking when was I going to start repaying my student loans. I EXPLAINED to them I was still in college but was not attending school that summer. No more phone calls. Problem solved. I can empathize with her for problem but, I really believe she just did not take her bill paying seriously. As for you, I strongly urge you to get therapy so you can cope and function in the REAL world. If you really think the police are going to believe you were being held hostage in a dining facility b/c you allegedly could not find the wait staff or a manager and you were tired of waiting, you are seriously mentally disturbed. Also, I guarantee the only person who will get a tongue lashing is you when you stand before the judge and explain your actions. Trust me, it won’t fly.

          • Elena Carlena

            Marc, you are so funny. Allegedly? Why would I lie? In the incident in question, I did find someone, at last, and did pay the bill. But no one would sit there forever. There was a whole restaurant full of witnesses. Trust me, they would neither arrest nor prosecute. If you expect your paying customers to knuckle under to your needs, good luck with that business model, it won’t last. I am vaguely aware of what happens when one does not pay bills or taxes, but none of those things have ever happened to me because I do pay bills and taxes. I don’t know why anything I say would make you think anything different about this woman. If I were the most dishonest person in the world, it would have nothing to do with her. We don’t know each other, I just have sympathy with her plight. I don’t see anything that you’ve said to explain why it would be OK to take $164,000 of value away from her for what was initially an $800 bill and even now is less than $10,000, especially given that both the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan constitution forbid excessive fines. Where I live if they foreclose on a house, after they pay the taxes, they give the rest of the money back to the now-former homeowner. But that’s OK, keep dodging this issue. I have always lived independently and have probably survived the real world for longer than you’ve been alive. Outspoken women need therapy. What a hoot.

      • Joyce Vradenburg

        Hi Dale, let us remember also. “Render unto Ceasar which is Ceasars and God things to God. Like I said’ The ones in Moncalm County 2 miles away from Richland Township knew I was behind my Taxes for almost 3 years and even came out to offer their help in person. Yes. I am also disable, and they gave me more than 3 years. I have paid now in payments that they made for me, I call that fair, and Yes. I own this house, but there is something we do not know about. I am far from rich or even well off, but thank God for Moncalm County and for helping me pay up my Taxes as they did for me. So, I do not believe this Lady even tried….

    • SDRAM

      Oh here you are again. You posted on the previous article about this woman’s story with a different username saying basically the same thing. So I ask again, what is your gain in discrediting this woman?

    • Truthseeker

      Actually, the County DOES have the right to seize property after one missed tax payment. Looking into public records, this woman only paid one tax payment during the time she owned the property. She missed a payment in 2011 for village tax, however, she also missed another tax payment in 2012, all of her taxes in 2013 and 2014. Obviously the tax statements were being sent to her home, and she was completely aware they were due. She chose to ignore them as she chose to ignore her sewer bills (which were rolled to taxes as well) Be careful feeling sorry for this woman, who at the 11th hour, is using an old injury from a car accident, as a plea to the public for help in demanding the County return to her the home that she chose NOT to pay taxes on. If everyone were to “forget” paying a tax bill, where would the money come from to pay for police, fire, school education, etc.? The County is within their full right to foreclose.

      • Sam Sobriquet

        Whether or not she has been late with tax payments or hasn’t made some payments for other years is beside the point. They foreclosed because of the one missed payment in 2011. It is also unconscionable that they can keep all of the profit from the sale. If she had a mortgage, wouldn’t they have to pay the bank the balance due on the mortgage? If your property is seized under eminent domain the government is required to give you fair and just compensation. It’s incredible that they can get away with this. It actually incentivizes the county to seize paid off homes. No wonder “there’s nothing more they can do”.

  • Zack Westerling

    Its time for a November ballot proposal to clip the wings of all county treasuries. This needs to stop NOW! We need a thoroughly worded ballot proposal exempting all disabled people over 50 on fixed incomes from property taxes. We also need them to be exempted from building permit fees, zoning laws that require some rediculas requirements to build wheel chair ramps. Must also include special assessments and ordinances that allow for tacking on charges to property tax bills. No more of that. I might be actually willing to do some research to put together this ballot proposal. If you would endorse me in this effort please email haroldreznycoopersville@gmail.com and let me know if you think this is a good idea along with tips on where and reference materials to write a November ballot proposal so we can put a stop to this oppressive nonsense. It would be interesting to see how many people would vote on something like this plan.

  • Michael Keudel

    How about the law works as its supposed to, and a lien for the back taxes are applied to the mortgage/deed, not this theft and additional profiting by robbing people, of their equity in their homes. Why did this tax shortfall not show up on consecutive years tax bills, which she has paid in good faith when they arrived? Something stinks here, the Treasurer DOES have the power to stop this foreclosure and accept the tax payment, but she’s refusing even when the facts are against her.

    • Glenn

      If Michigan were a lien state, then a lien for the back taxes would be imposed. However, Michigan is a tax sale state. In a lien sate, three years of liens allows the property to go to the first lien holder. When I buy a car, the bank is my lien holder. If I don’t make my car payments, they take my car, even if the missed payment is only $200 and the value of the car is $10, 000. When they sell it at auction (reference the huge auction on 131) they keep the difference. The house is no different. If she had had a mortgage, the bank would have paid the taxes and just added it on. When she “didn’t know ” she owed the bank any money, then they would have foreclosed instead of the county. Would everyone be so irate with the bank? Foreclosures suck and they usually happen during hard times. But we all fall on hard times. It’s how you prioritize your money. If your home is your investment for the future, then protect your investment and pay your taxes. It is my responsibility as a bill payer to know when I owe someone money. When the collectors call to tell me I am delinquent on my medical bills, the “I didn’t know” defense doesn’t really work. I still have to pay.

      • Elena Carlena

        First of all, yes we would be angry with the bank and probably call them greedy bloodsuckers. Secondly, when you have a mortgage you have one inclusive monthly payment, not paying some here, some there, on an irregular schedule like the government bills are set up apparently. Less chance of confusion. Thirdly, if you miss a payment, the next bill would show that. They wouldn’t keep it to themselves if you go to talk to them about later payments. I would hope. Fourthly, banks are private businesses. Government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and responsive to the people, who pay their salaries with their taxes and vote them into office. Or if not them, the people who appointed them are supposed to be responsive to the will of the people in order to win our votes. Furthermore, if I owe a medical bill they cannot take my house for it, I would declare bankruptcy and get out from under that expense and my house would be protected. And finally, there is still that pesky 8th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that constrains government in a way that businesses are not constrained: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Can you think of anything more excessive than to lose a $164,000 home because of $2000 unpaid?

          • Elena Carlena

            Wrong again, Marc. Everything gets paid nice and routinely and on time every month. But I have this thing called empathy. I feel this woman’s pain and think that the more people stick up for her, the better. You might want to try the empathy thing. Look it up if you don’t understand it. Maybe therapy would help you get some. It would make you a better person.

  • Truthseeker

    I’m not sure if you are reading all of the comments, this woman did not make her tax payments for 2012, partial, 2013 or 2014. These amounts will not show up on the new tax bills, once they go delinquent, they are sent to the County to collect, not the municipality the property is in. Liens are not placed on property for delinquent taxes, they never have been. She did not make any payments for taxes in good faith. She has turned to the media and to the public for help, she was fully aware of this situation prior to now. The county has followed protocol, she is abusing the system and using public sympathy to her advantage

    • Elena Carlena

      I agree w/ the other commenters surrounding your comments. Not sure how you know about these other payments, since they have not been reported by news staff that I’ve seen. Are you with the treasurer’s office? But even IF true, it still certainly seems fair and equitable to either put a lien on the property so she has to make it right before she can sell it, or just let her pay it now with a reasonable rate of interest. A $78,000 or more profit on what started as an $800 bill is outrageous. If she didn’t want to pay, I’d say take something of lesser value, like sell a car or something; garnishee a paycheck; or worst case scenario, sell the home but give her the $78,000, or whatever the sale price is minus the money owed. But since she IS asking to pay it now, she should be allowed to pay it. How is she abusing the system if she pays in full what she owes plus a reasonable rate of interest for the extra time it took her? Government of the people, by the people should be responsive TO the people and understand that sometimes people are overwhelmed. You don’t have to be a jackrump just because it’s (barely) legal.

      • Elle

        These other payments are available on a website called the BSA that anyone can access. It’s not privileged information. The news does not report on her other missed payments because they are trying to play on the sympathy card for this woman. Would you all be so enraged if you saw she wasn’t making any payments? While the punishment may not seem fair in your eyes, it is currently how the law works. You lose your PROPERTY because you did not pay your PROPERTY tax which pertains to the land and home you have. They would not take your car or garnish your wages because that is not specific to the property. Everyone is acting like this is some new law that just went into affect, this is how it has been for years. She had opportunities to pay this bill and she’s crying about it now because she realizes that there are actual consequences to her neglect. And it is neglect, not forgetfulness due to an accident because if it wasn’t then all of her other taxes would have been paid already.

        • Dan Rambow

          In fact, she has a history of not making other payments as well.

          She’s lived at the home for about 3-4 years. In that time she’s neglected to pay her water bill (which you get every 3 months) almost the entire time until it’s either about to be shut off or it has already been shut off. By my count she’s had her water shut off at least 4 times since 2012, and several other times where it nearly got to that point.

          This isn’t me piling on though. Just another indicator that she has been neglecting responsibility and is now using Fox 17 News to paint a different picture for her. It’s been great for generating traffic to Fox but it also calls attention to their complete inadequacy of investigating basic facts before reporting. They wanted and got their meaty headline and the expected anti-goverment / anti-tax sentiment. I can say I feel bad for what’s happened to Deb but she’s only a victim to her neglect. It’s not like she had a new or better address that mail was sent to telling her she suddenly was losing her property. She was quite aware of the timeline and waited until she knew it was past the point of redemption to try and make herself a martyr for her cause. Fox 17 capitalized on it.

          • Elena Carlena

            Sorry, Y’all — I appreciate that you’re adding publicly available information, but it sounds like you’re looking for excuses to be heartless. Nope, I still don’t care how many taxes and bills she hasn’t paid. People get overwhelmed sometimes, with or without head injuries. This foreclosure, as I understand it, is just for the old property tax, it’s not a joint sale to satisfy everyone she might owe. At any rate, if she doesn’t owe anything close to $164,000, the penalty is still excessive. I am probably by far not the only one to whom this law is news. It may have been in effect for years, but that doesn’t mean that everyone knew about it. I just checked my locality: Here, if taxes are delinquent, notification is sent to the homeowner with penalty fees added, to be paid in full to the clerk’s office. If payment arrangements need to be made, those are done with the city attorney’s office. Otherwise the tax bills may be sent to a collection agency, or the house may be sold to pay the taxes and fees. If the house is sold, after the debt is paid, the remaining money from the sale is paid back to the former homeowner. See? Lots of opportunity to save your home, because once you find out about it you can make payment arrangements. If at any point you agree to make the payments, you’re allowed to do so. The city comes out ahead because there are penalty fees attached. Worst case scenario, the city still doesn’t get to excessively take it all. That’s the crucial difference, Michigan’s 1000% to 10000% profit, which probably explains why they won’t work with the homeowner to resolve the situation. Now that the people of Michigan know about this law, the unfairness of which has been pointed out by Fox17, hopefully you’ll go about changing it. Or someone will challenge it on Constitutional grounds. Go get ’em, Michigan citizens. I don’t live there, so can only cheer you on.

          • Sam Sobriquet

            I sure wish you could explain to me how the homeowner’s problems with paying her bills on time somehow excuses the county for a terrible law that allows them to essentially rob their citizens.

          • SDRAM

            Could it be DRAM with yet another username? Same info…
            “DRAM” was on the other article about this woman saying the same thing.

        • Aieralyn

          What bothers me is the profit the county is making. They have very little incentive to work with any homeowner, its more profitable to seize the property and hide behind technicalities. In this specific case the penalty is much too severe. If you have to take the property at least return the excess profits to her as you would a bank. Otherwise its government predating on the disadvantaged. It also encourages more of this sort of thing by bureaucrats. Government needs a moral compass as much as individuals do, and it needs to be re-calibrated from time to time. Just because a law is on the books does not mean it is just or reasonable, or even that it is being enforced with the intent it was written in. This is where judicial discretion comes into play. Allowing the county to profit to such a large degree seems reckless. What if other creditors were allowed to engage in similar tactics?

  • This Is Insane

    Sure glad I don’t live in Kalamazoo, MI ! These people are not only without compassion they are sloppy in their professional activities. A certified copy is not going to a home and saying “here” to whoever may answer the door. They didn’t even get a signature? Sloppy, Can see why Canny is not in private practice. I sure wouldn’t hire him.

  • P. Crespi

    I believe that Kalamazoo county officer are very proud to take away the more number of house from the taxpayers , and the only that they wants is collect a big amount of money from the foreclosure, they don’t care about the situation or pain of the people. They always said they send all the paperwork.. if you are in the house or no doesn’t matter, if somebody take away the papers attach at your house its doesn’t matter, they just need to collect 1 million dollar this year from the foreclosure, if Mrs Calley have the money, why doesn’t she have the opportunity to get her home back? She is not the only one in this situation but the residents of Kalamazoo have been going through economic hardship for the last four or five years and sometimes we confuse the summer and winter taxes along with county and city taxes we should be given a chance to keep our homes if the owner is able to resolve the economic misunderstanding. The reality is that the Kalamazoo County officials don’t care unless they are making a profit, no matter at the cost of productive member of society.

  • Daniel T.

    The people who are doing this to her are demons, you can’t really put it any other way. “Monsters” doesn’t cut it, it’s too gentle, it implies at least the possibility that they don’t know any better. They are demons, pure evil, plain and simple. I’m not a very religious person, but I have to believe there is a hell for people like those so I can sleep at night after hearing stories like these. I can’t believe people who do such things can live out their lives reaping the profit of their evil-doing like nothing ever happened.

    If you are one of those responsible, you are evil. You can rationalize. You can say she missed other payments. it doesn’t matter the technicalities you come up with. In the eyes of the universe there’s right and there’s wrong, and you are wrong. Way wrong..

  • Marc

    @ Elena Carlena, What issue(s) am I dodging? You were given all the facts with public records and you chose to ignore them. Also, I do believe you are a dishonest person. First, you claim you would walk out of an eating establishment w/o paying if you were not given a bill. Then you stated you waited 25 minutes. If time had reached 30 minutes, you were leaving. You have absolutely no concept of common sense. You sound like a spoiled brat. Please by all means come into my place and leave w/o paying. I hope you have a good attorney. Also, have you spoken with her attorney? Is he using the 8th amendment as a defense? And if you really want to believe you will not be arrested for a dine and dash, you are delusional. I find it strange she was notified about the foreclosure and not know about any previous notices. Also, the government will give you ample time to straighten out your bills. You have to communicate and work with them. Also, I showed your comment(s) to many of my friends who own restaurants. They have your name on file and are looking out for you. They had a good laugh with your statement about being kidnapped and held hostage b/c you could not find any wait staff to assist you. Keep going. You are comic relief.

    • Elena Carlena

      Well, you clearly haven’t read with comprehension; I’m not going to repeat myself. No I have not heard from her attorneys, I have no connection with her. Dine and dash – per Wikipedia, to order and consume food with no intent of paying. I intended to pay and always will. Also, in a dine and dash one leaves quickly. Waiting 30 minutes after finishing eating is far from dashing. But don’t worry, I, and I’m sure many people after finding out how its citizens are treated, have no intention of moving to Michigan, so you can relax. But if you and your friends would like to publicize the names of your restaurants where you are so concerned about the possibility of people walking out if they’re not given service for a solid 30 minutes, then I’m sure all of us will avoid your places so that we don’t have to sit in a restaurant unattended for 30 minutes or more and again, you and they can relax. No need to keep a file. No one who knows that you intend such abysmal customer service will want to eat there. Not that I really believe you have friends.

      The issue that no one has answered is why is a $164,000 payment on an $800 debt not unconstitutionally excessive? Hopefully Fox17 will continue to pursue that.

      • Marc

        @Elena Carlena. You are not going to repeat yourself b/c of the fact you would have to admit to being a liar. You stated earlier you were going to walk out w/o paying. Also, I have more than my share of customers as well as repeat customers and they are all given excellent customer service. My friends and I get a kick out of people like you. Overgrown spoiled brats who are clueless as to how the real world works. I am sure someone pays your bills and gives you an allowance b/c you sound too immature to handle responsibility. Please steer clear of my business. I prefer an upscale clientele. Repeating, you don’t pay your taxes, you lose your home. Check the Michigan law. Her attorney should know that. But what do you expect from an attorney who handles personal injuries and only took the case to drum up some free publicity and advertisement.

  • sportsfan8888

    This Judge is incompetent and, perhaps, should be recalled by the voters…

    You have a disabled, elderly homeowner with a free and clear house
    being harassed and taken advantage of by County Attorneys and officials…!?

    In many States, this is “elder abuse” and barred by law to take this woman’s home.

    This woman/homeowner could have a “Civil Rights” lawsuit
    on multiple grounds against the County for millions of dollars…

    She is a senior.
    She is disabled.
    They are trying to take her property without due process of law.
    She did not get constitutional due process here.

    She may not even be competent enough to make legal decisions…

    It sounds like this case should have been transferred to the Probate Court
    for Conservatorship hearings to have some other competent adult
    be named conservator of this woman’s property and affairs…..

    As for the Judges and County lawyers involved in this case,
    they are the lowest of the low….scum!

    Perhaps, the State Bar Disciplinary authority should also take a look at this case….

  • Anna

    This government is TOO big and it has failed WE THE PEOPLE in every way, every day. Our forefathers would be turning in their graves if they knew this is happening in America of all places. This is nothing short of theft and for the courts to side with the government is proof that they no longer answer to the people.

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