Cortland takes initial action on unpaid water, sewer accounts

CORTLAND — After an incident arose this year with a property being sold that had both unpaid water and sewer accounts, city council is making sure it does not happen in the future.

Council gave first reading Monday to have on the books the ability to place assessments onto Trumbull County tax records arising from unpaid water and sewer accounts.

Mayor Jim Woofter said earlier this year, a home and property on Hillman Avenue was going be sold but owed the city “several thousands of dollars” in water and sewer assessments that had not been paid.

“We realized we did not have an ordinance to go back to them to collect the money on unpaid water and sewer bills. The ordinances passed will allow us to collect unpaid utility charges from the homeowners,” he said.

Law Director Patrick Wilson said the city always had the legal authority to pursue such cases in court, but Woofter and finance director Patti Gibson wanted an ordinance that would allow a lien to be placed on delinquent properties so when the property goes to sale, the title company won’t clear the title until the lien is paid.

Woofter said unpaid water and sewer accounts have not been a major problem, but the city wants to be prepared.

“This came to light because of one particular incident,” he said.

In other business, council heard from Tournament Trail resident Kari Clark about flooding issues at the condominium development.

Woofter said Service Director Don Wittman, an engineer, sent a letter to the residents saying there has been no change in land use to the area surrounding the condos to increase storm runoff and the city cannot address water issues on private property. Wittman also stated the city does not have an easement for Walnut Creek, which is state controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The group should look at hiring an engineering company to look at the situation you have there and determining what you need to have done. We are willing to work with you and try to figure out what we can do to help,” Woofter said.

He said city officials can meet with the condo association on options to address the flooding.

Also, Woofter reported employee health insurance is expected to increase by 19 percent in January, which will be $10,000 more per month. He said they are reviewing avenues to save money.

Gibson said employees are being asked to fill out forms to be reviewed by Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement Group to check for a better rate based on the number of employees and their health.

Woofter said the city unions agreed to take part.

“We want to see how healthy we are as a group,” Woofter said.

Woofter said they are switching from Anthem to Medical Mutual.