The New Rochelle City Council decided today not to give up hope that it could collect at least some of the $2 million it says the African nation of Cameroon owes in back taxes on a mansion used as a diplomatic residence.
I reported in today’s Journal News and on lohud.com that most council members – all those I could reach yesterday – were not ready to pass a resolution this afternoon that would have wiped the debt away. It had been proposed because a federal court had dismissed the city’s lawsuit against Cameroon after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on a similar case New York City filed against other foreign countries.
Council members, speaking at a meeting in City Hall, said they want to see if the money can be recouped another way, possibly by the efforts of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, who has said he would try to get diplomatic pressure exerted on foreign countries to pay back taxes.
Not that the council members are holding out much hope. Several of the council members doubted whether Cameroon could be persuaded to pay. But they still didn’t want to erase the debt.
“We ought to keep trying,” Councilman Ivar Hyden said at the meeting. “I think Senator Schumer was interested in doing something to help. He probably can’t, but why not keep trying?”
After a short discussion, they pulled the from their agenda.
Foreign countries have a diplomatic exemption on most taxes, but are still liable for sewer fees in New York State. But New Rochelle claims that Cameroon owes more than that. The city argues that the residence at 50 Montgomery Circle, not far from New Rochelle High School, was abandoned by the country from 1999 through 2009.