Tampa looks to fix code enforcement problem listen08/02/07 Mitch E. Perry
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The city of Tampa has lost $66-million in code enforcement fines over the past decade. A report by the cityâ€™s Code Enforcement Department produced that startling number earlier this week.
Broken down, those figures includes $22-million in fines of homestead properties, and $43-million in fines for commercial and other properties.
But City Attorney David Smith said the Constitution forbids foreclosure on homesteaded properties, so he called that $22-million dollar figure irrelevant.
The St. Petersburg Times reported this week that Hillsborough County has more than $51-million in outstanding fines.
Smith explained away some of the other liens as being old and uncollectible. But he said the city needs a better system of collecting data.
The Code Enforcement Department will now review the list properties in the $43-million category, deleting companies that should be excluded, and also halting fines of $100 a day on depreciated properties, which he says will make the owed fees more accurate.
The city of Tampa has a sliding scale of liens, Smith added. And he says thatâ€™s causing people to pay their liens.
City Councilman Joseph Caetano said Tampa needs to find a way to better identify the outstanding debtors.
City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena asked if there was anyway the city could publicly embarrass chonic code violators?
Smith said he thought the city was limited in that respect.
A member of the public, Pete Johnson said he supported Mayor Pam Iorioâ€™s efforts to clean up code enforcement problems in Tampa, but says theyâ€™re simply out of control.
The Council voted to get an update every 90 days on progress collecting fines, and staff will research a database system that might help as well.