Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Toledo prefers amnesty over agressive collections

In another of the 'stuck on stupid' actions our city takes, the latest idea is to offer an amnesty for the amount owed on nuisance work in the hopes of getting people to pay.

According to this article in our local newspaper, about $4.1 million is owed by current and former property owners to cover the city's cost of razing nuisance buildings, cutting grass or cleaning up debris. However, the city has only collected about $35,000 over the past two years.

Kattie Bond, the city's director of neighborhoods, said the new "code enforcement amnesty program" might forgive a portion of a bill - perhaps as much as half what is owed. She said the city has a hard time finding property owners.

When I read this, I wondered how they expect to get the amnesty offer to the property owners if they can't find them...

And I also wondered why the first response to unpaid bills is an amnesty program rather than hiring a collection agency to go after the money owed...

The city has money owned to it and it doesn't do everything possible to collect it, but it continues to add fees and regulations in the hopes of generating income (trash tax, 'convenience store' licensing). The logic completely escapes me.

The paper doesn't report the questions city council members asked about this program, but I know several callers to NewsTalk 1370 WSPD made a point of telling how to find people who own property - and of pointing out how many collection agencies exist in the city of Toledo.

Hopefully city council will reject the amnesty program - at least until they've used collection agencies to collect as much as possible.

4 comments:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

I believe that the city is taking the tack with collections as the first salvo in an even greater version of your "stuck on stupid" philosophy.

If the city has cleared or cared for the land that the negligent owner has abandoned. If the city has then offered amnesty from all or part of the costs of doing so for a limited period. Could not the next step be the seizure of this land by calling it blighted and using eminent domain.

Such seizure would quickly make the 22nd floor the largest landowner in the city and give a city government bent on micromanaging economic development (and doing so badly) a further stranglehold on what and how anything gets done in the city of Toledo.

Maggie Thurber said...

That's certainly an option, Tim, but more likely the costs will be added to the property taxes as a lien...this is the usual route. Then, the city gets their money prior to any sale...or the property is foreclosed upon and then auctioned for a song and dance (tap dance?).

Hooda Thunkit said...

Next thing you know they'll be proposing an exit tax, for those leaving the city...

And, when we don't pay it???

Amnesty for that too.

Sounds to me like more than stuck on stupid.

Stupid al the way to the bone...

Robin said...

I can't see how hard it would be to track down a property owner. I'm sure the owner's SS number is somewhere in the records. Lay a claim on any funds that go to that SS number.

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