DOWNLOAD REPORT HERE
$2.3 Million dollars, that’s how much there is in delinquent garbage bills in the city of Erie.
And as the city works to pass a budget, they’re likely to hike the garbage fees for everybody.
Well, we did some digging and found some of the biggest offenders of unpaid bills are landlords.
WICU & WSEE obtained the list of people who haven’t paid their garbage bills in over a year.
The list of delinquent garbage bills is over 70 pages long.
On that list, a former Erie city council member, former city school board member,local attorneys.
The most owed by an individual is $10,126 dollars.
And we uncovered a trend.
A large majority of these unpaid bills, we’re talking in the tens of thousands of dollars, $40,000 to even more than $70,000 in unpaid bills dollars were landlords.
“There are a few with those kind of dollars amount an it was surprising for us when you look through, it’s eye opening,” said Paul Lichtenwalter, Erie’s Finance Director.
So Thursday, we tracked down some of those landlords who owe the city tens of thousands of dollars in back garbage bills.
None of them wanted to go on camera, their excuse was that they rent to low-income tenants, and it’s the tenants responsibility to pay the garbage bills.
But, at the end of the day, the bills are in the home owners name.
How the city handles collecting delinquent bills now, doesn’t give them much power, “The law is to put a lien on the property and collect at the time of sale and right now that’s our avenue,” said Lichtenwalter.
The lien also affects the landlord’s credit rating. But for landlords who have a 20-30 year investment in property, liens apparently aren’t much of an incentive to have to pay.
So the city is trying to get more aggressive
The thing is, they can’t not pick up the garbage, that would become a public safety, and sanitary issue.
So they’re currently tossing around other options to collect this past due fees, like perhaps raising the landlord fees, or working with the landlords to come up with other options.
*The list of delinquent garbage fees was provided to WICU & WSEE via a right to know request to the city. The list was provided to the city by Erie Water Works, the Water Authority collects garbage fees for the city.