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Cleveland business owner says he was charged more than $1,000 for lawn that city didn't cut

Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 23, 2017

Some Cleveland residents and business owners are questioning the billing accuracy of the city's lawn cutting enforcement program.

Andy Emrisko, who owns a business on East 76th Street in Cleveland, told News 5 he was issued a lawn cutting bill of $1,131 for a front lawn that is not even 2,500 square feet.

What's worse, Emrisko said he can prove the city never actually cut his grass on July 3 as billed.

"They cut this grass over here behind me, for $1,131," said Emrisko. "This isn't even as big as your living room. Bottom line is they didn't even cut my grass. We cut our own grass, we have our own lawn mower. We cut our own. I never got a picture. They never sent me something that says here this is what your property looked like, we're charging you to fix it up."

Emrisko said this isn't the first time the city issued him a bill for lawn cutting it never performed.

Becky Barker reports she was in the same position for the small lawn in front of her West 58 Street home.

She said she was finally able to prove to the city that inspectors had it wrong in charging her $125 for work that was never done.

"We really had to fight, and fight, and fight," said Barker. "We showed that they had the wrong address. They target this area, and my house isn't the only one, there's been quite a few on this block."

Barker believes the city needs to upgrade its antiquated reporting system by issuing portable computers to inspectors and getting rid of paper based reporting of unkempt properties.

Barker said the upgrade would more easily allow inspectors to enter time-dated photographs of uncut lawns into the system and cut down on inaccurate, false billing.

Cleveland Councilman Ton Brancatelli agreed handheld computers out in the field would make a big difference and said other cities of similar size are using them with great success.

News 5 contacted the City of Cleveland about this story, and it agreed to look into lawn cutting billing inaccuracies and Emrisko's $1,131 lawn bill.

"This grass was not cut, other than by us," said Emrisko. "And if they have proof to show that they cut it, God bless them, I would love to see it."