WPB takes steps to attach the cost of cleaning neglected properties to tax bills
The City of West Palm Beach is trying something new to go after neglectful property owners. It is working to demand the public costs of cleaning up these nuisance properties be included in the neglectful owner’s taxes.
There are hundreds of properties across the city that have been abandoned or neglected by their owners. These properties have become dumping grounds for trash. They are covered by overgrown vegetation. Many are unsafe and require boarding of the windows and doors.
As part of its commitment to address neighborhood quality of life issues, the City, at taxpayers’ expense, has cleaned up these properties after the owners ignored demands to do it themselves. Under the City’s nuisance property program, the City has boarded up buildings, mowed overgrown grass, and collected piles of trash.
To date, the City has spent over $122,000 ensuring that these properties do not pose a risk to the surrounding neighborhoods. Now, the City is taking steps to ensure the property owners, not taxpayers, pay the bill.
For the first time, the City of West Palm Beach is moving forward with a plan to have these costs included on the tax bill. For many properties, the cost incurred by the City is over $2,000 each. The City is now working to add that amount to the owner’s property tax bill.
“These property owners have a legal and a moral obligation to maintain their properties. If they ignore those obligations, it falls to us to ensure these properties don’t pose a risk to our residents,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “But just because we clean them up doesn’t mean taxpayers should get stuck with the bill. These owners may have ignored our notices, but they can’t ignore their taxes.”
Until now, a lien process was used to recover these costs. Now, by including them on the tax bill, the City will have a greater chance of recovering money from the property owners.