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Cleveland residents, leaders point to city maintenance billing issues

Posted at 10:35 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 23:10:40-05

Cleveland residents continue to complain about inaccurate city billing for lawn cutting they said never took place.

Terry Young showed News 5 several bills issued by the city, totaling more than $1,000, for city lawn cutting at her East Side home she said didn't happen.

Young said the bogus bills kept coming to her well-manicured home year after year, so she installed a high fence all the way around her property, but the bills were still being sent.

"I shouldn't have to go through all of this," Young said.

"My brother was cutting the grass and they were saying they were coming in and cutting, and they weren't"

"That's one of the main reasons why I went and got a fence, they were always saying they were cutting my grass."

Andy Emrisko said he's been dealing with the same issue at his small 10-foot by 20-foot front lawn.

Emrisko said he's had to fight off bogus lawn cutting bills of more than $1,000 for the past two years.

"I went from $1,143 for my big lot here, down to $1,138, so I guess I got a little bit of a discount," joked Emrisko.

"I have cameras. I know they didn't cut it, we don't have any video of them cutting my lawn."

News 5 contacted Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli about the chronic city billing issues and he admitted the bogus lawn cutting bills are a product of a short-handed staff and an antiquated paper billing system.

"Unfortunately we get a lot of people who get bills, that really shouldn't have received a bill," Branactelli said.

"Call your local council person if you get a bill that's wrong, we can send a note off to the department and say let's take a look at this again. They do have an opportunity to contest those bills.

Brancatelli said residents can file for a protest hearing or complete a dispute form and mail it back to the city  

The city’s parks maintenance team will review the protest form and get back to the resident.

Branactelli said the city is looking at adding more supervisors and field computer equipment to help improve billing accuracy.

Meanwhile, residents like Patty Brown believe improvements in city billing practices can't come soon enough.

"They're just making up stuff," Brown said.

"They don't even have anything to substantiate why they keep sending these bills."

"Get yourself together, get your records straight. Update your system whatever you use."