ASHTABULA — A question of whether the county auditor could continue to put delinquent trash bills on residents’ property tax has been settled by county and city officials.
The dispute began in April, when Ashtabula County Auditor Roger Corlett sent city officials a letter about a recent change in state legislation. Corlett said it was the opinion of his staff that they could no longer place the delinquent trash bills on residents’ property tax.
City Manager Jim Timonere said city officials did not agree, and though city officials had differing opinions on the matter, “we did agree the (state) language change further confused the issue and concurred with that portion of the disagreement,” he said.
Ashtabula City Finance Director Dana Pinkert said the issue is important because the city gets an additional $200,000 per year from delinquent trash bills added to property taxes.
“Believe it or not, some people wait to pay their trash bills until it’s on their property taxes,” she said.
The city collects its property taxes in September, so by resolving the question now there has not been any missed assessments.
Ashtabula County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci asked the Attorney General Mike DeWine for an opinion on the matter. Dewine’s opinion supported the county auditor being permitted to continue to place the city’s delinquent trash accounts on the property tax bills.
Timonere said he’s extremely thankful to all those who helped get this cleared up, especially Iarocci for requesting the opinion.
“Without it, the city would have had to significantly increase our fees for trash collection due to the added costs of staffing and materials needed to collect these delinquent accounts,” he said. “Obviously this is not fair to those that are responsible and actually pay for the service
and none involved wanted to see that happen.”
In conjunction with Corlett and his staff, city officials, as well as Iarocci, City Solicitor Mike Franklin and Pinkert, contacted Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, and Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, about the matter as well.
“Legislation put forward at our request by Rep. Patterson and Sen. O’Brien is pending to clear up any confusion in the language not only for Ashtabula, but for all others in the state,” Timonere said.
Pinkert said the auditor’s office and city officials worked together on the resolution.
“I’m always looking for another way,” Corlett said. “(DeWine’s) letter answers all questions,”