Should the county bill property owners for cleanup costs?

Johnson City Press • Nov 18, 2019 at 8:40 AM

Washington County is considering a new way to recoup the costs of cleaning up nuisance properties.

Press Senior Reporter Robert Houk wrote last week that the County Commission’s Budget Committee voted to research sending statements along with tax bills to property owners whose properties were subject to court-ordered cleanups. This was a big year for such interventions on unkept properties, and the normal process of being repaid for the work, attaching a lien to properties, can take years to settle.

The county’s attorney said she is researching the trustee’s legal authority to see if the person holding that office can legally attach cleanup bills to property taxes. She told the Budget Committee that ability is not directly defined for the trustee under state law.

Still, it appears a more toothy repayment incentive is needed. Out of $162,000 in cleanup costs over the last few years, only $61,000 has been recovered.

When a question involves county coffers and property taxes, we think it best to let the taxpayers have a say. So, we’re asking you.

Should the county bill property owners for cleanup costs? Is there a better way to enforce codes or to incentivize payment for court-ordered cleanups?

Send your correspondence to [email protected]. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and may be edited for length, style or content.

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