YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s that time of year when businesses and property owners pay their semi-annual property tax bills, and the Mahoning County Treasurer’s Office began receiving calls from people wondering why their tax bills are so high.
First News has learned thousands of owners, for the first time, are being charged because their grass has been cut by city workers. That extra charge costs $150 for each occasion.
The city says the law is to keep property owners from being absent landlords, as well as improve neighborhood aesthetics. The law has been in effect for more than a decade, but it went largely unenforced until last spring and summer when more than 9,000 lots were cut at a cost of more than $3 million to the city — a cost which is now being passed on to the owners.
Lawyers for the city said warning notices were sent out last April with local water bills, as well as running them in the newspaper.
This isn’t the first time the issue has been discussed. In October, property owners complained about the $300 charge, which was cut down to $150.
Abby Beniston, of the Youngstown Code Enforcement and Demolition Department, said the $150 covers the cost of manpower.
“That is to cover the manpower that’s actually cutting it, the personnel time for the research to find these property owners,” she said. “There’s a lot of costs that go into that.”
Mahoning County Treasurer Dan Yemma said despite the notices, the new charges led to a lot of questions from property owners.
“There are many all at once, so people are… surprised, I guess,” he said.
The city says it will step in if the grass grows above eight inches. There is an appeals process for those who think they are being unfairly charged, and that next hearing is March 9.