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Petersburg paper faces backlash for naming people who owe backtaxes

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PETERSBURG, Va. – A Petersburg local paper was paid to print all the names of individuals and businesses who owe back taxes and has faced  backlash from it.

The City of Petersburg paid $21,000 to have the Progress Index print the list because they said it is a way to collect the $10 million that the people and companies owe in back taxes.

The 44 pages worth of names were printed in Sunday’s edition.

"We have 10 million dollars worth of outstanding debt to us, here are the people that owe us,“ said Kevin Brown, Petersburg treasurer.

"That's a lot of money, that's a lot of money,” said resident James Quickley.

It is also money that Petersburg desperately needs, though not everyone believes the names of people and businesses should have been published.

"I think they should have given people some notice so that they could have gone down and paid their bill before they were, their names were put in the paper,” said resident Paula Mims.

The treasurer took the idea to City Council last month.

"One list was real estate; the other list is personal property taxes,” said Brown.

"We have to keep the records for 20 years, on delinquent real estate taxes and five years on personal property,” said Brown.

Council voted six to one in favor of his proposal, as a measure to gain need revenue.

Many Petersburg residents believe it was the right thing to do since the city is in serious financial trouble.

"If it's taxes they owe, they should pay them, you know,” Quickly said.

"I don't see anything wrong with it, I mean, if you take care of your responsibilities, you don't have to worry about it being in the paper,” said another resident, Kevin Dodson.

The last time the city paid to print delinquent tax payer names was back in 1995.

The city treasurer said they plan to recoup the money spent advertising, through late fees charged on the delinquent taxes.