City won't delay water shutoff

Sandusky city commissioners, staff blame property owner
Register
Jun 25, 2013

 

By TOM JACKSON and ANDY OURIEL   
news@sanduskyregister.com

Sandusky city commissioners and other public officials are weighing in on the crisis at Hoppers mobile home park, where nearly a dozen residents are just weeks away from possible homelessness.   

While some commissioners continue to struggle for answers, others have placed themselves smack in the middle of the fray, fighting to help the park's residents as the city marches toward an Aug. 1 deadline to shut off the park's water service.

Click here to for related articles, news video and photos.       

The property owner, Joe Yost, is tens of thousands of dollars behind on payments for water service at the mobile home park. The residents have said they paid Yost for water service, but city officials said Yost never paid the water bill.   

Last week, the Register asked all seven city commissioners to respond to this question: "Do you believe the city should attempt to do something to help the residents, either by delaying the deadline for them to move, or by helping them with financial assistance so that they can successfully relocate? Or is the city willing to supply them with individual water meters, or individual billing accounts, so that residents who pay their monthly water bill can continue to receive service?"

Commissioners Diedre Cole, Jeff Smith and Julie Farrar responded to the Register before Monday's commission meeting, either by email or phone.  

Commissioner Wes Poole sent an email Saturday that said he was having email problems. At Monday's meeting, he had little to say. 

Commissioners John Hamilton, Pervis Brown and Keith Grohe did not reply, although they offered a few quick opinions on the matter at Monday's meeting.   

Smith, Cole and Farrar said they do not favor extending the deadline for the planned shutoff of water service at the mobile home park, even as some residents continue struggling to find a new place to live. 

•Said Cole: "No one can accuse the city of acting hastily in this situation and Mr. Yost was provided every opportunity to rectify this problem well before now. I also don't support extending the deadline; that's what got us to this point, we simply need to fix the problem."

•Said Smith: "It is the city of Sandusky's responsibility to provide water to all residents in Sandusky, it is the responsibility of the property owner to pay that bill, he has not."

•Said Farrar: "Mr. Yost was put on notice in March the water was going to be shut off. We are at a point where Mr. Yost has to pay his bills."

Others at the meeting who addressed the issue: 

•Sandusky fire Chief Paul Ricci: "The city of Sandusky cannot go into a mobile home community and enforce the code ... No one in our city should ever have to live like this. How do we prevent this from happening again? I'll tell you how: I'm going to park myself on (city law director Don) Icsman's doorstep to strengthen our code ... so we can mitigate trash, tires, grass weeds, unsafe and unhealthy conditions." 

•Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej: "We had people living there unknowingly paying rent to a landlord who is not paying us. That brought up a more collaborative effort of talking to the police chief, fire chief, public safety concerns going on out there, discussions with the Erie County Board of Health about the public health issues out there. And I think we all became aware that, with the water issue aside, there were many issues going on out there that concerns a lot of agencies. ... The city wasn't being the bad guy, it was all of us trying to work together to get the people somewhere else. It's not their fault we are in this situation — the property owner is responsible for this. That is where the blame needs to be." 

•Erie County environmental health director Bob England: "The city of Sandusky brought this to our attention, taxes that weren't paid and utilities that weren't paid for quite some time. And their only recourse is to shut off the water. The determination is when, how and why do they do that? When you shut off water to a community like this, the water is the lifeblood of the community. ... If the water is shut off, there are all sorts of health consequences. .... In discussing that with the city, the city manager's office and also the fire department, we all agreed to meet with the community and make them aware of the resources that are out there." 

Ricci, England and city officials organized a meeting earlier this month near Hoppers mobile home park, where they met with residents in hopes of pointing them to social services and other public assistance available. 

This past week, some of the residents said they're still struggling to find a new home or cobble together resources to secure a new place.   

England said that of the 30 homes at the mobile home park, "five or six are in limbo and, of those five or six, two or three have an option (for) a waiting list." 

Cole, however, spent much of last week out at the park, helping residences clean the place and learning more about each person's individual needs. She said there are at least 10 families or individuals still in need of assistance. 

"In the old days, when neighbors faced hardships, everyone pitched in and helped," Cole said. "Government was a last resort, not a first. Whatever happened to that? Maybe the Register could start a fund at a local bank to which I will gladly contribute what I can."

Ricci said the community event he helped organized for the park's residents was intended to lead them to viable solutions. 

"Only time will tell if we were successful or not," Ricci said at Monday's commissions meeting, his voice emotional. "I find it incredibly inexcusable for anyone, anywhere to interpret our efforts to be meaningless or ineffective. We care about our city — we want what's best for our citizens and we will get it done." 

Farrar said city officials may be willing to help the residents on a case-by-case basis until everyone has been housed.

Smith, also a landlord, said he will try to help anyone who calls him.

 

Comments

Browndog271

Why is title to the property in the Company, Westgate LLc which is owned by Joe Yost? Sheriif sale the park to someone to buy it.

FlyBoy86

Because Westgate LLC owns the property?

Browndog271

Yes, but if he went bankrupt, it would be sold to settle creditors. Why wait, just like the water bill, most people would be turned off after several months.

Cowboy

Gee, I wish I had tens of thousands of dollars worth of free water! Where do I sign up for that! And I'd like to supersize that order with a free Obama phone and food stamps please!

doggie mom

I am assuming the residents did not receive free water. They paid the water bill with lot rent like most parks have it set up. You pay the bill to the landlord and he is suppossed to pay the bill. He did not. I just do not understand WHY the city let's it get to the point of no return UNLESS they are looking at doing exactly what has happened. I know if my water is not paid it doesn't go by a 2nd month and it will get shut off...this s ridiculous!

saxkris

No one got Free Water but the Park Owner!

gene44870

ROLMFAO @ COWBOY ,You arent right ...

happyfeet64

Cowboy, that is one of the stupidest comments I've read in awhile! Did you think that up off the top of your head or had to mull it over for a few hours? Not to mention downright mean.

doggie mom

Thanks so much Ms. Cole for being an extreme help as always to the people who are your constituents. You are as much a problem to this city's situation as anyone. Mr. Yost should be held responsible and should be in jail. No one is going to buy that area and help those people. The city wants to shut it down and sell it to a fast food joint so they can make money off that corner when the overpass is finally finished.

gramafun

if this is fact, then AMEN to what you wrote.

doggie mom

I LOVE how Ms. Cole states "In the old days, when neighbors faced hardships, everyone pitched in and helped," Cole said. "Government was a last resort, not a first. Whatever happened to that? Maybe the Register could start a fund at a local bank to which I will gladly contribute what I can."

As she lives on government assistance...

MrSandusky

Why should the Register start the fund? Why not Ms. Cole or anyone else for that matter?

deertracker

Is she even old enough to know bout the "old days"?

heaven-leigh

LOL! BURN!!!!!

gene44870

Yea and its an insult to the residents of the park not to mention the voters of Sandusky , that the city will help with finding housing for the displaced residents of the park , when they said that before and have done nothin to fix the problem that they {are in part if not more } responsable for . You have blow enough smoke up the butts of not only the residents of that park as well as voters , but the voters of the intire city .
If you are going to do something about this mess , then stop talking and start doing . actions speak louder then words . and if you arent , then dont tell the voters you are .
The city is punishing the residents for something that is out of their controll while the owner just sit there and does nothin .This in my book is so very wrong , Get with it Sandusky
And its like I said before , if it were me and I lived there , I would spend eery moment on tring to get a attorney to for a restraining order against the city to prevent this injustice from accuring with people that havent done anything wrong

Commenter

I agree with this wholeheartedly!!

happyfeet64

i agree with everything you said, Gene-I think it's an injunction though that they need.

camero

some of the resident have started scraping there homes for money so if they all have to move soon is the city going to bulldoze the rest because alot of them home are in really bad shape i think there is more to this story then what we are being told because the city can put meters on all the homes and charge that way

VTX Rider

Someone at the Water Dept. must be responsible for overdue billing. Right?
Who is that person?
Where is the accountability? They need to be fired for letting this go. Why is it not feasible to let the residents pay their water bill to the city?
Does the city really need to shut if off now, after what, two years?
Why wasn't this addressed with the owner once the bill was past due say 90 days? Maybe it was.
Is there a hidden agenda?
So many questions, all of which will go unanswered.

Ms. Ard, do you have a comment or perhaps a better solution than shutting of the water for these people and forcing them to move?

007

The ironey of Cole's statement really sets me off. She is receiving section 8 metro housing, which means the taxpayer is paying for her housing as well as probably food stamps.

Commenter

A commissioner that gets section 8 housing?

doggie mom

THAT"S WHAT I SAID!!!!

T. A. Schwanger

With the coming of the overpass on Route 101 the City is beginning to see development at Venice and Tiffin Ave---Dollar General, the old Martin Motors demo and reuse.

While the entire current commission and staff can not be blamed for this issue, the fact still remains this should not have gone on for 5 years and $50,000 later. Let's hope the City is not playing games with the remaining folks at Hopper Trailer Park. This could end up being one of the Land Bank properties where the City takes control, ousts the residents, pays for demolition, sells the property to a developer for pennies and forgives any liens on the property with no hope of recouping a red cent.

If only the walls at City Hall could talk and tell the 5 year story.

The Answer Person

Yep...always there with a kind word...

T. A. Schwanger

###
AnswerPerson

And where do you stand on this issue? What is your answer (person)?

God Of Thunder

Well I'll tell you..The Martin property was bought by a private indisvidual...So what's your point..

T. A. Schwanger

###

God of Thunder

To the best of my knowledge, the Martin Motors went thrugh the usual sales transaction process from one developer to another--not the Land Bank Program.

Properties going through a Sheriff Sale and are sold for a portion of the land/structure value.

If a sale is not made to a private individual at the Sheriff Sale, the property can go into the Land Bank Program (City ownership)where property can be sold for pennies on the dollar (or less), and back taxes and liens can/are forgiven. New property taxes are generated, however the City only gets approx. 3%-5% of the property tax.

Julie R.

T.A. Schwanger is right on the money about the Land Bank!

meplus5

Cole can donate money but she can't pay her own rent and utilities? Shes on public housing. She chooses to only work as a comissioner and not hold a job other than as a comissioner just so she can live off all of us. Amazing! And her husband can't work either?

"In the old days, when neighbors faced hardships, everyone pitched in and helped," Cole said. "Government was a last resort, not a first. Whatever happened to that? Maybe the Register could start a fund at a local bank to which I will gladly contribute what I can."

http://erie.iviewauditor.com/Dat...
Parcel: 58-60003.000
Owner: ERIE METROPOLITAN HOUSING AUTHORITY
Address: 1612 CAMP OH

dorothy gale

As tempting as it is to trash Commissioner Cole, this is NOT ABOUT HER! It is about residents who paid their monthly bills and are getting screwed over in spite of that! Sieze all of the deadbeat landlord's assets and leave the water on! Why should the residents have to be punished for Yost's misdeeds? What about personal accountability? Make HIM pay, dangit!

God Of Thunder

I agree with you about this not being about Cole.. However.. The idiot Yost has chickened out and filed bankruptcy and nothing can be done as far as seizing goes, he's protected, thanks to our free world laws. There is no hope in saving this trailer park now.. It's too far gone

deertracker

You people just DON'T get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

doggie mom

what is it we don't get?

deertracker

The city wants the land. The city could have dealt with this years ago. Joe is so far in debt with back taxes that the city will probably seize the land, sell it and someone will redevelop that entire corner. Stay tuned!

God Of Thunder

The county will be in charge of this land due to the over 200k in back taxes.. Everyone wants to keep blaming the city and the commissioners about this.. Yost and Rapp are the cause of all this..

Take a drive through this place...It's a shame that it has come to this, and if a restaurant did go in here at some time...So what...

The gas station has been an eyesore for years...All around, it's a good thing, but I do feel horrible for these residents to get screwed over by the people who ran this property..

meplus5

You are right dorothy gale this is not about her...it's just irritating how she can have money to donate to these people but cant pay her own rent...Maybe the Register could ask Cole in a seperate article why she feels shes entitled to receive public housing... Would you mind asking her SR?

SamAdams

I second the motion. Where are Cole's friends and family, church, whatever, eh? Why is she living off MY sweat?

Cole's method of "earning" an income has nothing to do with the unfortunate residents of the trailer park. They PAID their bills. The LANDLORD didn't.

gene44870

I think that the attacks on Miss Cloe is unfounded , what does her being on metro have to do with the trailer park mess? You see she is tring to do something that as far as I can tell tring to help the people of that trailer park and tring to make it right , why dont people stay on the topic of what the stories are about ? She must need metro and are eligable for it or she would not be recieving it
And I am sure that she dont make 100,000.00 a year like people have stated and as a matter of fact I am sure that commissioners only get a couple thousand dollars a year , most have other jobs and own shops and work at them .
I am not sure , but it seems to me because of them being Public Workers and are paid through tax payers dollars , it wouldnt be that hard to find out what anyone of them make .
I have to give her credit for going out there {the trailer park
] and tring to help out with this problem .and yes I am talking about Miss Cole , she might just turn out to be one of the good guys that represent the city .

And no I dont know her and she sure dont know me .Cause I am sure that People might think I am frinds with her and I want to make it clear that its not the case

doggie mom

Her comment about not looking to the government to fix the situation is what sparked my outrage. She doesn't mind the government fixing her problems. By the way she said go ahead and shut off water. Gene could you explain where she is helping these people? I also think that the head of the water department needs to be fired for letting the problem get to this point but that is what they wanted all along isn't it. Nice spelling and grammar btw gene.

mikeylikesit

his spelling and grammar is no worse than 99% of texts sent by "educated" adults these days..

SamAdams

EXACTLY!

And your point concerning letting the water bills get so far behind is more than a little valid. I can't get a few dollars behind without threats, and yet this guy gets tens of THOUSANDS behind? And what's the ultimate solution? To punish those who did nothing wrong. Nice. Frankly, I hold the Water Department equally liable for the circumstances these residents find themselves in. No excuses! And what are you going to do about THOSE people, hmmm, City of Sandusky?

gene44870

hey you just like others think you are so great ,but the fact of the matter is gammer and knowing that the ones that we voted for are stabbing us in the back , you dont need grammer to see that . , and ask for her saying that , well it looks like she has had a chnge of heart or she wouldnt be out there to help them, and if you think that she isnt tring , then you tell me what she is doing

doggie mom

Congratulations she went and talked to people and picked up some trash... She doesn't have a job what else does she have time to do? Maybe she could spend her time helping them fill out section 8 housing applications. I work 2 jobs (one 45 hrs aweek and one 25 hrs a week and I also VOLUNTEER when possible I have no kids (my choice) so I am working to support myself with no help from anyone for anything. She does NOT REPRESENT ME OR MY INTERESTS!!!!! Also she didn't go out there until she knew she would end up in paper. So I don't care what she does she is still a problem as far as I see it. Also, your grammar is ATROCIOUS! I am so glad we wasted tax money on your well spent and well used education.

Truth or Dare

Why isn't the hard copy of the front page news article "Hoppers Mobile Home Park Crisis - Police Investigate possible water theft" not here for comments? Possible water theft? You think? What about the theft of the Residents $$$'s to pay for that city water, of which they didn't see the need to address for 2 yrs., and now due to the landlord's actions, their HOMES?!

I would venture to say that doggie mom and T. A. Schwanger are on to something. By the by, just how does that land bank thing work and whose baby of an idea is that? What they may want to investigate is if this crisis has been in the makings for the last 2 yrs., and on purpose. SICK, SICK, SICK!

Just Because

Sounds like someone has an AGENDA here other than helping these people. Why doesn't the city let the residents pay what they are currently paying to the deadbeat owner and pay it directly to the City instead of cutting them off and punishing them for the idiot owner. All of the residents need to stop paying the owner another dime, hire an attorney collectively (or find one willing to do this pro-bono) and put all of their money they would pay him into an escrow account until the owner does what he is supposed to do.

starryeyes83

They are hell bent in kicking these people out. Why???

The Agenda is this : kick the people out, bulldoze the place to the ground -- and probably either sell the land or have it developed by the fat cats. Right?

How close am I to the truth?

deertracker

BINGO!

doggie mom

Excuse me deer tracker isn't that what i posted
Tue, 06/25/2013 - 10:44am
"...No one is going to buy that area and help those people. The city wants to shut it down and sell it to a fast food joint so they can make money off that corner when the overpass is finally finished."
and you said we had no idea what was going on??? maybe you do not read all the posts like I first thought....

deertracker

Excuse me doggie mom but I stated my opinion about the land when the original article was published days ago. You are correct in assuming I don't read all the posts but only because half of these posters can't write or spell. Trying to figure out what the poster actually meant is a waste of my time. Then of course there are those that do not comprehend very well. Perhaps, you don't read all the posts either. That area needs to be bulldozed and redeveloped.

doggie mom

I have no problem believing that area should have been cleaned up long ago. However, peoples lives were involved there. It wasn't just over grown vacant land. These people have serious issues that aren't solved by kicking them out of their homes, no matter how poor of a home it may be.

Julie R.

Starryeyes83 is very close to the truth.

he said she said

IMO, come the first of the month, the residents should pay their own water/sewer bill and this Yost character should have his water shut off at his home until the arrears is paid in full. The people of that park should then turn around and file a class action lawsuit against Yost for what he has done to them. I don't know if they will get any money but maybe it will make others like him to think twice.....

margaritaville88

Agreed! I am beginning to wonder if someone on the current or previous commission is "buddies" with Yost and/or one of his 'associates' ? ?
I smell something in the wood pile people, and it's not roses !!!

milemarkerzero

So from what I gather here, is that one of our commissioners is glad that metro pays their water bills.

gene44870

not in all cases does metro pay the water bills , only on the property that they own out right.
If the private parties sush as waldock investments and home owners that rent out pay there own and not all the apartments in the city are metro , If you have a building that has two apartments , and only one is metro and the other is not the landlord pays the water bill and even then in some cases , the tenant pays if its in a single family house .the only way metro pays the water bill is if its public housing and not section 8

YoMamma

Yost should not be at home, he should be sitting in jail!

Darwin's choice

Why isn't the prosecutors office looking into this on behalf of the people effected by this? Surely there are some criminal actions here? I've said this many weeks ago, something is underfoot here.....

God Of Thunder

I mentioned this in a post on an article on Saturday... I mentioned that I think Joe Yost and Tami Rapp, who so called 'managed' his so called 'development' company, should be investigated for something like money laundering or theft by deception, since, for 5 years, they collected money for water from the residents, and never paid.

Of course someone who 'knows Tami Rapp personally', knows she would never do this...

Again, I say if you manage something, then you see everything that comes thru the door of that office, including late notices, so you know something is going on.. If you did nothing, then you were conspiring with his devious ways..

The city has given enough breaks...They had 20-30 families to be concerned about in this park, before finally deciding to shut the water off...

Don't be mad at any of the commissioners or the city itself...Be mad at Joe yost and Westgate Development..

pptrsha

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

doggie mom

Yes the greatest proportion of blame goes to Yost and his company however, there still has to be some blame that this situation never was addressed and only continued to get worse. Why is it a company was allowed 5 years of water and taxes to get that high while an everyday citizen is held accountable to greater restrictions? That is what bothers me. That and Ms. Cole :)

margaritaville88

DARWIN: Agreed! I am beginning to wonder if someone on the current or previous commission is "buddies" with Yost and/or one of his 'associates' ? ?
I smell something in the wood pile people, and it's not roses !!!

pptrsha

I got a tenants water bill. it was over 1000.00 the city came out determined that the water was turned on in the house and left on. I begged the water dept to shut it off...they wouldn't because there were people living in it. I would not pay it so they would shut it off. they didn't. it went on for three months it took me to go through eviction court. I still had to pay it in the end. yes, the city has an agenda, I also think they make the rules as they go along.

OSUBuckeye59

All of the details about failings from both Mr. Yost and the City are truly hard to believe. As others have already noted, why didn't the City threaten Yost's LLC with water shut-off 4+ years ago? Why has the City allowed property taxes owed to accumulate up to almost $300,000? And isn't it all so nice for Mr. Yost how he's been pocketing the checks of his trailer-park tenants without paying any of his city obligations?

So what to do about all this?

One thing I haven't yet read is if the IRS has been alerted to potentially look into potential tax return shenanigans by Yost on behalf of his LLC. I'd be interested to know if Yost's claiming any/some/all of the trailer-park rental income, and if he's also listing utility & tax payments, not to mention if he's declaring any maintenance and improvement costs. Perhaps an IRS audit of Yost's tax returns for at least the last 5 years would be one avenue to explore.

Someone in the City's water utility department needs to be held accountable and answer for why Yost was allowed almost 5 years of water payment delinquency. A 3 month delinquency before threatening shut-off would seem justifiable, but 5 years? Likewise, someone in the City's Property Tax office needs to be held accountable and answer for why Yost was allowed to be arrears close to $300k.

Having the Hoppers mobile home park property owned by Yost's LLC pretty much guarantees Yost's personal finances can't be touched should any of the trailer park renters somehow get legal aid and sue Yost. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the next story line on all this is that Yost sold the property, and whatever was leftover after Yost pays his loan in full will satisfy some/all of his water and property tax bills.

LadyC

Unfortunately you're right on the money. Yost operated the park under a limited liability corporation, and so they can't go after his personal finances to secure the debts. But I have to wonder, too, about those tax returns. The city charges taxes on rental income as well, I wonder if those were paid. The county property taxes weren't, the water wasn't, so I assume the city tax hasn't been paid either. I googled Yost and he was also a "managing member" of the Hayes Avenue Development Co., address listed 1700 hayes Ave. The only things in the 1700 block of Hayes Ave. are the underpass or American Crayon.

pavedparadise

This shyster has his hands in several City projects and laughed all the way to the bank in each. Sandusky is easy pickings.

EZOB

Okay, I'll go ahead and say what everyone is thinking. We all know that when a utility bill is 2 or 3 months late' it's usually shut-off time. I'll accuse somebody at the city level of getting a kick-back. There isn't another reason this was continued for 5 years. Yost should be charged with embezelling the peoples money and someone at the city level should be fired and charged. ANOTHER LAWSUIT: They'll be fired and sue the city to get their job back and the taxpayers pay again.

Julie R.
Darwin's choice

Has yost been reported in here? Or are you saying he should be?

kris63063

Who in their right mind would want to buy the trailor park? That park is a disaster and totally run down and an eye sore. Once the owners start tearing into the outside of the trailors and selling the scrap, who is going to pay for the removal of the hulks that are left behind? Who is going to foot that bill? Let me guess, the taxpayers! The city handled the outstanding water bill by applying it to his property taxes but he wasn't paying those either. A lot of good that did! Why did it take 5 years for someone to notice there was a problem with this property owner?

dorothy gale

The city doesn't care about the residents. I think they've had plans for that corner for a long time.

Restless1

Can the renters stop paying rent and put the money in a fund to pay the city back for the water? Where are the creative thinkers?

pavedparadise

There has been talk on this article regarding the City Land Bank Program.

Here is some info thanks to the City web-page and County Auditor.

910 Central Ave--Sold in 2000 to private owner for $68,900. City acquired property in 2012 for Land Bank and sold for $850 (not a typo)(appraised $127,000)

14 Anderson Street Extension. City acquired property--sold in 2012 for $1,475 (appraised $5800)--new owner resold two months later at a $600 profit.

Two to name many such properties.

gramafun

this has been a five alarm screw up since it began. Someone should have put a stop to this overdue bill long ago, but its a little late now. Truth be known, its the RESIDENTS of the park who are suffering, not the city commissioner (Cole included) or the city of Sandusky. I feel badly for them and yet not ONE bit of help came to them to save their homes.

Whoever has the "agenda" should be really proud of themselves. I won't be surprised by who it is, nor will I be surprised when it comes out that the CITY OF SANDUSKY makes out on this one. Corruption abounds around here. Why is anyone surprised by anything anymore?