Making sure every attempt to notify property owners were notified of their delinquent bills involving the city sewer and garbage before placing a lien on their home was a priority for all the city councilmen and the mayor at last night’s city council meeting.
Once they were assured of that by city staff and by Dixon Recology, their votes were unanimous in support. It helped that the City Attorney Michael Dean reminded all that there is a "contractual agreement between Recology and the city of Dixon" to take that step if necessary.
Phone calls and certified letters have been sent to the property owners about the delinquent amounts that included the notification that a lien would be imposed, said city staff.
Councilman Rick Fuller even asked Recology’s Ed Farewell about going to the resident’s door. Farwell responded that they try to get information from their drivers that might tell them if a house has someone gone on vacation or if it appears to have been abandoned but no, they don’t go to the doors.
The drivers do have a system to tell if garbage has not been put out and then office staff makes phone calls if that happens more than a couple weeks in a row, Farewell said.
Councilman Dane Besneatte wanted reassurance that “these things alone could not cause the sale of the property” and was assured by Dean.
“The liens that are placed here would not result in an immediate sale—they simply are liens,” he said. “Assessments, however, can pull the property from the tax rolls and can cause foreclosure but this is not the same as liens from sewer/garbage, etc.” He further explained that the method required is by county so therefore is state law.
“In this case, there is a contractual obligation the city must perform,” he said. “The Franchise agreement with Recology says that the city will do this. [Delinquent accounts] do not get collected independently so the owner does not have the ability to go in and just pay the lien. The county will foreclose on the entire thing. The county’s ability to foreclose due to a property tax is very long--like five to seven years.”