Those who haven't paid their stormwater bill from the city of Meadville for a while may want to reconsider waiting.

City Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the collection of delinquent stormwater payments. The resolution followed the stormwater management system user fee ordinance of 2012 and directed and authorized the city attorney, in this case Gary Alizzeo, to initiate legal action against property owners who haven't paid stormwater fees.

Council's resolution authorized Alizzeo to pursue all available legal action, including filing municipal liens. For filing of any municipal liens, a fixed fee of $200 per parcel of land shall be assessed on the owner as well as additional attorney costs to collect the fees owed to the city's stormwater system management fund.

City Manager Andy Walker said the delinquencies have been "steadily increasing" since the fee ordinance was passed in 2012.

According to Walker, in 2013, the first billing year, the city had 144 delinquent accounts owing approximately $19,000 in penalties. In 2018, 627 delinquent accounts owed $83,000. He also acknowledged duplicates in records for multiple delinquent years, and added up over the years, the outstanding payments totaled close to $260,000.

"The idea is for the city to authorize action," Alizzeo said. "We're going to start by giving people a notice letter, which gives them 30 days, reminds them of the bills, how much they owe and 30 days to pay."

Deputy Mayor Nancy Mangilo Bittner advocated for a payment plan for those who may not be able to pay the whole sum owed at once. Alizzeo and Walker said it would be up to council to institute a payment plan policy or for the city to adopt an internal payment plan option.

Mangilo Bittner also pointed out that some may not realize they have outstanding bills as owners of multiple parcels of developed land, giving the example of a parcel with a shed on it as subject to separate stormwater management assessment.

Walker noted the 2012 ordinance includes a side yard appeal policy, saying if the shed was on a parcel contiguous with the parcel of the owner's house, the owner could be exempt from separate fees if they were to apply for an exemption. Walker said there have been dozens of applications for exemption.

After parcels have had liens, Alizzeo said, the city could start to execute on those liens and sell property.

The vote was 4-0 in favor of the resolution at Wednesday's work session. Mayor LeRoy Stearns was not present.

Tyler Dague can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at tdague@meadvilletribune.com.

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