Property owners who owe taxes and other liens should pay their debts, Orange City Councilor Terrie Salter said Tuesday.
Bill Mello and Ken Phillips requested the city council waive a total of $22,432 in back taxes and liens on five pieces of property in the Navy Park area
City Manager Mike Kunst said Phillips wants to buy the properties, but “is not willing to buy the properties if the back taxes, liens and outstanding bill have to be paid.”
Salter said she did not want to waive the debt because “I think it’s opening a can of worms” and others will make the same requests.
District 1 Councilor Pat Pullen said he has a problem with waiving liens to the city. “Take care of your taxes. Take care of your mowing,” he said.
In a memo to the council, Kunst said “Mr. Mello is in control of the property and Mr. Phillips would like to buy the properties and bring the sturctures up to the building cod standards in order to sell them and to develop the property at 705 Rein Avenue.”
City Attorney Jack Smith said state law does not allow cities to waive back property taxes. He the city in the past may have waived a small mowing bill lien, but has not in his nearly 30 years with the city waived a large lien.
The city code enforcement has rules for keeping properties up to code standards. If a house becomes dilapidated, the city follows a legal procedure and gets the building condemned. Then the building can be demolished. A lien for the cost of the demolition is added to the property.
In addition, the city mows properties if the owner does not respond to requests to keep the height of weeds and grass down to levels in the code. The mowing fees are attached to a future sale.
Any time a property is sold, the liens must be paid before the title can be legally changed.
City Attorney Guy Goodson said the $14,000 lien on a piece of property was from a building demolition because the structure had been condemned. The lien showed the owner “failed to maintain the property,” he said.
Two duplexes and a single house on Dewey Avenue are on the list for the request, along with a single house on Dewey, a house on Third Street, and an overgrown lot on Rein Avenue.
According to the city records, the duplex at 201 and 203 Dewey has a back tax bill of $1,981. The duplex at 206 and 208 Dewey has a back tax bill of $2,685, plus a mowing bill of $165 for a total of $2,850.
The house at 219 Dewey Avenue has a back tax bill of $1,214 along with a lien of $277, for a total of $1,491.
The lot at 705 Rein Avenue has a back taxes bill of $1,684 plus a lien of $14,425 for a total of $16,109.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-