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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 3/19/2008

On the Agenda for March 10

Bill 08-0065--Foreclosure Chattels This does for people in foreclosure what an ordinance last year did for people getting evicted: requires notice of the eviction day and prohibits throwing their stuff out on the street.

The Story: This bill comes from Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration. According to Dixon spokesman Sterling Clifford, "The eviction chattel bill has been successful in achieving all the goals it was intended to achieve (in fact, there's evidence that we've seen a reduction in the number of evictions). It's reasonable to extend the same rights and courtesy to people in foreclosure."

Bill 08-0068--Water and Sewer Charges--Payment Schedules Will allow people who fall behind on their water bill to start a payment plan that will halt additional interest on the bill.

The Story: The city keeps putting houses with unpaid water bills into tax sale, which results in big payments to the tax-sale purchasers (at best). It is doing this at a time when many people are complaining about questionable water bills ("Water Weight," Mobtown Beat, June 13, 2007). This measure would stop the tolling of interest--now set at 5 percent--on overdue water and sewer charges as soon as the debtor starts making payments on a plan the city agrees to. It also allows a person who is paying off a big water bill to get the service back as long as he or she is making payments on the debt. The bill's sponsor, 12th District Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young, expressed hope that the state legislature would pass a bill this session to at least increase the threshold of water bill debt that triggers a tax lien; a state Senate bill that would outright prohibit tax sales for water bills has had a hearing but has no House companion.

Bill 08-0071--Environmental Citations--Default This increases your appeal time for a $50 trash ticket from 90 days to one year.

The Story: 14th District Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke says the old folks she counts as constituents commonly run out their 90-days, then call City Hall and argue--instead of following the procedure to protest the ticket. Once they figure out what they're supposed to do, it's too late and they owe $150--or face a lien on their property.

City Council Quote of the Week

"This year is not going to be like other years. It will not be a surplus, there will not be a goody bag; this at best will be a flat year." --City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, looking forward to the upcoming city budget.

City Council Fact of the Week

The members of the City Council reappointed Paul T. Graziano commissioner/executive director of the Department of Housing and Community Development at their March 10 meeting. He has held his position since November 2000.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for April 7 at 5 p.m.

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