The check was in the mail – or something like that.
Landlord Adam Snyder’s four-month dispute with the Village of Oak Harbor over a 2005 utility bill attached to a foreclosed home sale has come to an end. But that doesn’t mean the battle is over.
Snyder bought the Ottawa Street residence earlier this year but refused to pay an outstanding $469 electrical bill. He reasoned the village had not taken steps over the years to get the money from the previous building owner and tenants who had lived there even though village officials had plenty of chances. A 1950s ordinance ties old bills to the current owner not tenants. So the village has denied electrical service to the three-unit property. As a result, Snyder has showed at every council meeting since to rehash the issue.
Then on Thursday, June 12, a check for $433.20 arrived at the village administration office to pay the bill, Administrator Randy Genzman informed village council at its mid-June meeting.
The village cashed the check the next day.
“Whenever your schedule allows, we could install a meter,” Genzman told Snyder during the meeting.
Snyder was not completely satisfied with the turn of events though. “If the village would have acted a little sooner this would have been resolved,” Snyder told the group.
“The good news is it is resolved now,” Councilman Jon Fickert told him.
Snyder said he had recently talked to his realtor about the ongoing drama and that the person told him that money had been dealt with at closing and should have been paid. He implied the village should have known that.
Genzman looked a little mystified. “January Real Estate LLC, who the hell is that?” he asked Snyder, referring to the name of the company listed on the check.
The Toledo company was not Snyder’s real estate agent, Snyder responded, but must have had ties to the foreclosure case.
Snyder said his communications with the agent led him to believe the village was aware of the check coming.
“Regardless, can’t we just be happy it’s resolved?” Fickert asked again.
“Don’t you want to know the end result?” Snyder answered. He mentioned other similar cases that have popped up in recent months with other property owners and that this could happen again if not addressed by council.
“It’s been resolved,” Fickert stated again and the conversation ended.
Over the months, council has repeatedly conceded problems exist with the utility collection system and said it hopes to revamp regulations to fix those issues. More than $71,000 in unpaid bills had accumulated over the past 15 years until village officials changed some billing regulations in 2012 that tightened up the system.
Council also has talked about ways to deal with the outstanding debt, including forgiving some of the bills and hiring a collection agency to go after the money. At least one person suggested the village wipe the slate clean and quit wasting village employees’ time.
Genzman noted after the meeting that the village in recent weeks had recouped four of the outstanding bills. He explained five customers had come in seeking to have utility service turned on at their new residences. All five owed back bills, he said. Four paid. One did not.
The Press noted that Snyder’s disputed bill was about $40 more than the check amount and asked why there was a difference. Genzman said he did not know but said the utility hook-up will go through as planned.