A local citizen's group is demanding Cuyahoga County stop selling property tax delinquencies, or tax liens, to collection agencies.
Concerned Citizens Community Council leader Anita Gardner told newsnet5.com the selling of tax liens will cause hundreds of homeowners to be driven into foreclosure because collection agencies are allowed to charge up to 18 percent interest on the debt under Ohio law.
Gardner believes Cuyahoga County should be responsible for its own tax collections and not simply turn the debt over to what called "predatory companies."
"They can come up with a better idea," said Gardner. "Why can't they start collecting the taxes, why can't they start a new section of the county in collecting taxes? Why do they need to charge 18 percent?"
Cuyahoga County is set to turn another 3,300 delinquent property tax accounts over to a collection agency in October.
newsnet5.com asked Cuyahoga County Treasurer Chris Murray if there is a better way to collect back taxes.
Murray said the county budget will currently not allow the county to expand its tax collecting personnel.
Murray said selling the tax liens allows the county to get to more cases.
Murray agreed 18 percent interest imposed by some collection agencies is a strain for many homeowners who are well behind in paying their taxes.
He said the county is now in the process of taking bids from other collection companies, and he believes he can find an agency that will charge a more reasonable interest rate on tax debt.
Meanwhile, Gardener said her group will hosting an information meeting for residents on tax lien sales on Sept. 23, at 6 PM, at the York Rite Masonic Hall, at 13512 Kinsman Road.
Gardner said she hopes the county will go after delinquent businesses the same way they pursue homeowners.
"We know businesses that owe millions of dollars in back taxes, but they're not picking them.,' said Gardner. "Why just residents, why just houses, I don't understand."