Court gavel justice judge legal law 311.
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The Tel Aviv District Court issued a harsh judgment on Sunday against the Or
Yehuda Municipality and the Interior Ministry after they issued a local man with
a NIS 2.5 million bill for over 20 years of backdated municipal
Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen slammed the municipality for starting
administrative collection procedures against Aharon Matana, a man in his 80s who
has owned and rented out an event hall in Or Yehuda since 1985.
was hit with the NIS 2.5m. bill for two decades of backdated “obligatory
municipal payments” in 2009.
The octogenarian was “overwhelmed by fear”
as bank accounts containing his life savings were foreclosed when the local
authority began administrative collection procedures to secure the millions of
shekels they demanded, the court learned.
However, the judge criticized
Or Yehuda city hall for presenting the bill out of the blue, with no prior
warnings and without attempting to collect the payments before.
possibility that a local authority will sit and do nothing for many years, then
suddenly wake up one day and present its citizens with an astronomical bill,
without any details or explanation, and then start administrative collection
proceedings, seems to me unreasonable and lacking in integrity,” said
Among the charges included in the bill Matana received were
property taxes, road levies and garbage collection charges dating back to the
1980s and 1990s, for which he had never been billed at the time.
the court found that the municipality did not even have records for the vast
majority of the debts – some of which were two decades old – and payment would
have completely wiped out Matana’s life-savings.
The judge also noted
that even though Or Yehuda city hall was demanding millions of shekels in back
payments, it had not included any detailed breakdown of the charges in the
When Matana asked for more detailed information, the municipality
would not provide it, but instead initiated collection proceedings against
The judge also noted that even when the Or Yehuda Municipality began
its administrative collection procedures against Matana, the prosecution in that
case had still failed to detail the source of all the debts.
point, Matana decided to petition the case in the Tel Aviv District
While the judge noted that local authorities do have the legal
right to initiate collection procedures for unpaid debts, that right should only
be exercised with caution, she said.
“We take a very severe view of
collection procedures initiated on the basis of tax assessments that include
unsubstantiated and nonspecific charges,” Agmon-Gonen said. “The conduct of the
municipality and the Interior Ministry was almost unimaginable: They imposed
debts totaling millions of shekels, the life savings of an elderly man in his
80s, without any prior checking.”
In accepting Matana’s petition, the
court ordered the Or Yehuda Municipality and the Interior Ministry to pay his
court fees to a total of NIS 150,000.