Stop Code Compliance Costs From Being Taxed by Tamarac

by Patti Lynn

The City of Tamarac will be holding it’s first reading of a new “Nuisance Abatement Assessment Ordinance”  this Wednesday morning. On the outside, it appears fairly innocuous, however it’s the unspoken, unwritten consequences of it that really needs to be scrutinized.

Temporary Ordinance 2247 which will be heard at 9 am at City Hall, is designed to make sure that the City of Tamarac recoups money spent on bringing a property into code compliance.

First of all, a city official advised that the city “loses” about $5,000. per year in code compliance abatement costs. That is, the money from those liens placed on properties that are then foreclosed upon. By state law, most of that type of lien, fine, assessment, whatever, is unrecoverable. It’s just like homeowners and condo associations. There is a limit to what the banks are required to pay. Maybe we should push the legislature to allow those liens to be recoverable. It’s not as if the banks don’t have the money to pay, they’re just “protected” from paying. That’s one of the benefits of having a lobbyist in your corner, and the banks have lots and lots of lobbyists.

The new ordinance would place the costs associated with compliance on your tax bill. The City of Tamarac will create a “Special Taxing District” which will encompass the entire city. That will give city officials the right to place a special “tax” on your property. In November, when taxes become due, those costs would also become due. If they are not paid, a tax certificate will be sold on the property.

Now, the unstated problems:

Most folks who have mortgages also pay their taxes and insurance into an escrow account. That means, if the taxes, (including the “special tax), go up, then your mortgage company is going to raise your mortgage payment next year, to cover the cost of higher taxes. So, until the next tax bill is generated in 12 months, you’ll be paying, perhaps, another $100 or $200 per month for your mortgage. Not good.

The Code Enforcement department will be issuing compliance notices. The process includes appeals, but those appeals go to the Mayor and the Commissioners. The neutral 3rd party in use now, the Magistrate, will not be a part of these procedures. Now, if the City of Tamarac had a “bone to pick” with you, no one outside of the city could prevent some unilateral action on Tamarac’s part. Granted, you might have a good lawsuit, but, isn’t this a little heavy handed? It really could be, and this procedure is not needed.

Last, what about those elderly residents, on very limited budgets, who aren’t always able to keep their property in spick and span condition? Under the rules in play now, the city comes and cleans up the mess. If the person can’t pay the cleanup fees, a lien is placed on the property. When that property changes hands through sale, demise, or whatever, the City of Tamarac collects its money. Under the new proposal, that elderly resident could actually lose their home in a tax sale, and be evicted! How cold.

In these harsh economic times, compassion should trump collections.

This proposed ordinance doesn’t seem well thought out. The premise is excellent, but, when you take those conditions and apply them to the demographics of the City of Tamarac, some warning bells do go off. The City has probably already spent more than $5,000 just researching the temporary ordinance. They’ve also hired 3 more code compliance officers, (You know that you’re looking at more than $20,000 each in salaries and benefits), to prepare for when this ordinance is enacted. AND, the ordinance itself makes it effective immediately upon second reading…and that is scheduled in May 2012.

All that $$$ for a mere $5,000?

I’d urge the City Commission to take this off the table and look at it again. It seems more punitive than progressive. It’s not as if the City of Tamarac is down to its last dollar, they have an excellent, well endowed surplus account. In these harsh economic times, compassion should trump collections.

It’s not as if the money will be lost, it’ll just be a little late getting to the bank.

This ordinance will be heard on April 25th, 2012 at 9 am in the Commission Chambers.  Please contact the Mayor or Commissioners to let them know what you think about this:

Beth.Talabisco@Tamarac.org

Diane.Glasser@tamarac.org

Pamela.Bushnell@tamarac.org

Michelle.Gomez@tamarac.org

Harry.Dressler@tamarac.org

About Patti Lynn

Patti Lynn has been a Broward County Resident since 1963 and a Resident of Tamarac since 2001. Retired as manager for the US Post Office, she is the mother of two children and has a grandchild. Patti is currently the President of the Broward Coalition which is a coalition of condominium associations, homeowner associations and community business organizations representing over 100,000 families in Broward County. She is also on the Board of Directors of Mainlands 8 of Tamarac Lakes 8.

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  • Woodlands Res

    Thank you, Patti Lynn. This is the kind of information we voters need. Since it is not forthcoming from our elected officials, we sincerely appreciate your diligence, as well as that of Tamarac Talk.

  • Richard J Kaplan

    Patti,

    I am not exactly sure if Tamarac’s law is designed like many other cities, including Lauderhill and Hollywood.

    In our cities the law is well received because the intent is to recover actual out of pocket costs the city is expending to fix up property needed to protect the public. Such fix ups include boarding of windows and grass cutting. Basically serious health, safety and welfare items that the city has already been paying for.

    What happened before is that we could only lien the property, and often we didn’t get paid until years later, if at all. Then all other taxpayers of the city were stuck paying for these costs while the city carried the expense on the books. It wasn’t fair for responsible taxpayers of the city to pay for those that are not responsible (often banks or property in foreclosures).

    It does not result in more code officers or expense since our cities are already absorbing the expense, paid by the remaining taxpayers, without much hope of recovering those costs anytime soon.

    So if Tamarac’s law works this way, it is of great benefit to the city taxpayers. See if Tamarac’s law is working this way or adding something to what other cities are doing.

  • Scott C

    Wow….would not have known about this if it were not for this article here at Tamarac Talk. I wrote several of the Commissioners and urged them to Reject this measure and Hope sincerely that they will. If not then we will need to remind our fellow Tamarac citicens of the wrong and heavy handedness things our local City Commision is up too and get others who will represent us better.

  • Kahuna

    I would have to disagree with Patti and agree with Mr. Kaplan. This is money owed by the property owner due to non-compliance. If the property owner doesn’t pay, who does, the rest of us? I’m already disgusted with all of us having to pay for others not paying Association maintenance fees, mortgages, etc. I’m glad the city has finally hired more code enforcement officers. The city is loooking terrible because many people just don’t care how their property looks. Now they need to shorten the time before they take action as many violations have existed for years due to the violator knowing the city won’t enforce their liens.

    I do agree with Patti that the laws need to be changed, but getting past the banking lobby is almost impossible as they have all the politicians in their pockets.