CLAYTON — Unpaid charges for grass/weed cutting for 2016 and 2017 were certified and approved by city council Thursday to be sent to the Montgomery County auditor for collection with real estate taxes.
“It’s that time of year again when we go back through and assess services we provide to people that won’t take care of their properties,” said Kevin Schweitzer, director of finance. “Currently we have $19,684 worth of mowing charges to assess to parcels within the city.”
Vice Mayor Tim Gorman noted that the city is still facing about two and a half months of having to cut grass.
“So why are we doing this at this point?” Gorman asked.
Schweitzer explained that the amounts had to be certified to the county auditor by the second Tuesday in September, so two readings of the ordinance must be held in order to meet the deadline. Any mowing charges incurred after the current billing cycle will be assessed next year.
“I noticed that the weed cutting also overlaps the North Clayton assessments with one particular owner,” said Councilman Mike Stevens. “I think we need to do the assessments but are we in contact with that owner?”
Schweitzer said the owner of the company had passed away, so things have been tied up in court. The city had to deal with that complication when it needed to purchase property for the multi-use path.
“They have not paid any taxes or North Clayton fees since they acquired the property at auction. They were pretty good about doing some of the mowing, but since the owner passed the gentleman that had performed the services in prior years said he had no contact with the new company so he said he is not going to do it because he doesn’t know how he is going to get paid so it has been left up to us,” Schweitzer said.
The property owner still receives invoices from the city and notified that the fee can be paid prior to the city sending the delinquent charges to the auditor’s office.
“We have $19,000 that we are turning over to the county. What would you say that we billed this year and the part that has been paid? Fifty percent, ten percent? ” Gorman asked.
Schweitzer estimated that maybe 25 percent of the property owners had paid their mowing fees.
A similar ordinance was also adopted to impose assessments for delinquent waste hauling and disposal fees.
“These are trash bills that are outstanding, that are least 90 days past due and that carry at least a $100 balance,” Schweitzer noted. “These individuals receive quarterly bills and also receive second notices. Right before we present the list to council we send out another letter notifying property owners that they need to pay off their balance or it is going to be assessed to their property taxes. They are notified numerous times. Currently we have $35,651 fees to assess. Those that haven’t been outstanding as long or are under the $100 threshold total about $125,000.”
The city has a contract with Republic Services and pays the company the full amount owed, but is then short those funds owed by residents who have failed to pay their trash bill.
“It is bothersome to our cash flow to not be reimbursed by residents for the services they are receiving,” Schweitzer stated.
Mayor Joyce Deitering asked if it usually takes a couple of years to get reimbursed once the fees are assessed. Schweitzer said it is placed on the following year’s tax bill, but if residents do not pay their property tax bill or only a portion then the city is still short of funds. On average it takes the city about two years to get compensation. The county pays the city in one lump sum so there is no way to know which property owners have paid their taxes unless Schweitzer logs into the county system to see which properties have paid.