Charles Murphy says he is being treated like a criminal, but he doesn’t believe it is just.
The Irishtown/Summerside man, and his wife Dianne, has been ordered by the courts to pay just shy of $12,000 in unpaid taxes to his town. The couple still refuses to pay the outstanding fees and interest that spans decades. The total mounts as they keep not paying.
The matter was recently called again in a Corner Brook provincial court room, where an annual hearing to review their assets was held. Earlier this year, the Murphys agreed to pay $250 per month, but the town turned that plan down because it would take too long to recoup the debt.
Since the proceeding was published in The Western Star earlier this month, Murphy said he has lost business from people in the area. He said he has been questioned by neighbours and acquaintances, but says he is happy to let people know what has happened.
Murphy acknowledges not paying the town taxes, but believes he has a right not to.
“Money has nothing to do with this,” he said. “I believe in paying my taxes. That’s what keeps things moving. If you pay your taxes, you get your services. My rights were taken away from me.”
The man who has tried his hand at politics a number of times over the years claims the town stopped delivering snowclearing and garbage pickup to his house at the end of Colson Lane.
A few years later, according to Murphy, the town started putting in water and sewer along that street. Once again, they only did so for the remainder of the residents along the road, he claims.
At the time, he says he was asked to sign a form accepting the road ends at the curb stop 300 feet away from his house. He refused. Murphy also claims the town was supposed to continue the water and sewer project, as well as asphalt, right to his home. He claims there is documentation proving this, but he has only seen it and does not have it.
“(The Town) fought me tooth and nail,” he said. “No matter what I tried to do, I still ended up being the frigging guilty party in all this.”
A typical course of action for a municipality to take against a resident not paying property tax is to cut services, but the Murphys have their own well and septic system.
Murphy said his wife was concerned about losing their assets, such as the house, but he decided he had to make a stand.
“If there is any justice at the end of this road they will pay,” he said.
Colson Lane was once owned by the province, and maintained by the Department of Transportation and Works. It was turned over to the town more than 20 years ago.
Mayor Tony Blanchard refuses to talk about the dispute or the matter before the court. Former Mayor Joe Loder did not return a message as of deadline.
Spokespersons for the Departments of Municipal Affairs acknowledged the road was turned over to the municipality, but are not aware of any agreement between the town and province in terms of maintenance or services. They also say the province has not been involved in any of the upgrades to services for that road, that it was a project done by the town. Murphy says he will take the matter back to court, and he will sue the town for damages and wrongfully charging him for services such as water and sewer.
“Everything that they took, I want it back,” he said.