Delinquent weed abatement bills go on property tax rolls
A resolution authorizing the collection of delinquent weed abatement charges in excess of $72,000 was approved by the Ramona Municipal Water District (RMWD) during their June 23 meeting. The imposed charges will be placed on the San Diego County secured property tax rolls.
According to Kenny Osborn, president of Fire Prevention Services (FPS), as well as RMWD Fire Marshal Saul Villagomez of Cal Fire, owners of 15 parcels owe the district a total of $72,007.98 for weed abatement work on their properties.
“We have done everything we can do to get notices sent to these individuals,” said board member Darrell Beck. “The problem is that some of these properties are under new ownership.”
Of the fifteen parcels in question, five have undergone title change after the abatement work had been completed.
Each of the property owners was served a Notice to Clean Premises and given 10 days to comply. The notices addressed the district’s concern of accumulation of weeds, grasses and other combustible items on the properties of these individuals.
Due to noncompliance, FPS was authorized by Cal Fire and RMWD to hire a private contractor to abate the nuisance. Two letters, including one by certified mail, have been sent notifying the parcel owners of the amount owed. A non-response from the individuals led district to seek approval to place the outstanding amounts for collection on the San Diego County property tax rolls.
Earlier this year, the contract between RMWD and FPS was questioned due to what was considered exorbitant charges for weed abatement work done by FPS contractors. A report presented to the RMWD members stated that several aspects of the service agreement between RMWD and FPS needed to be cleaned up. The previous ordinance had given complete control to the contractor when the control should have been the responsibility of the district. In one case, the water board approved the district paying $13,943 of a $16,943 weed clearing bill after the property owner protested the process and the amount.
A new ordinance and contract between RMWD and FPS states that, as with other district contractors, an abatement contractor will need to follow RMWD guidelines and regulations and be strictly monitored by the district and fire marshal.
“We, as a district, have much tighter control now over the relationship between RMWD and FPS,” said Beck.
Sophie Akins of Best, Best & Krieger, the law firm representing RMWD, addressed her concern regarding the individual property ownership transfers.
“The government code does not allow the transfer of title if there is a lien against a property,” said Akins. “I am curious as to how we will be able to record a lien on property that has changed title.”
The properties in question had abatement work done before the transfer of the property title to a new owner.
Akins suggested that the board proceed with passing the ordinance on the 10 known properties that owe money, and hold off on assessments to the five remaining properties until further research and investigation of correct and current titles can be confirmed.
Board members proceeded with the resolution with an amendment regarding the five properties in question. They will spend time before their next meeting on July 14 researching the title transfers and options available to the district regarding the five properties in question.
- Water board hears more about weed abatement
- RMWD joins consumer group, OKs new weed rules
- Public to pay $13,943 of $16,943 weed clearing bill
- Drought weed bill dominate meeting
- Property owners have until Dec. 1 to appeal assessment
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