At Cleveland Water, we think it is critically important that our customers have access to accurate information about our services and the various ways we work with customers on a daily basis. Recently, one of our local media outlets has inaccurately reported information regarding our use of tax liens.
In a recent report, this media outlet highlighted an individual customer’s story to falsely claim that Cleveland Water is overly aggressive in its use of tax liens, and that we use our tax lien process to target some of our most at-risk customers. Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.
While Cleveland Water does utilize tax liens to collect delinquent balances, we do so only as a last resort when a customer does not pay their bill. Without disclosing any customer’s personal information, generally tax liens are used to collect delinquent balances from rental/income properties after extensive efforts to work with customers on payment plans, tenant deposit agreements or other mechanisms have failed.
This makes the tax lien process our last line of defense to collect from property owners who have, in many instances, abandoned properties helping to create blight in our communities. Without utilizing the tax lien process, this abandonment impacts our communities beyond the blight by increasing water rates for the overwhelming majority of our customers who do pay their bills.
Our goal is to keep all of our customers in water service without negatively impacting the other customers in our system. We take multiple steps to work with customers to keep balances from becoming delinquent, and still more steps to help resolve the issue if a customer does fall behind in their payment.
Unfortunately, despite these efforts, sometimes customers either cannot or will not pay their bills. We think it is unfair to pass these costs on to our other ratepayers and we work to use every avenue available to us to ensure people pay their fair share.