Yost owes $1.5 million

Cold Creek Crossing tax bill, water bill add up to a chunk of cash for west-side developer
Tom Jackson
Jun 26, 2013

Sandusky officials have said Joe Yost owes the city about $60,000 for an unpaid water bill at his Venice Road mobile home park.

But the amount he actually owes for water and sewer service at Hoppers mobile home park is far larger — $260,000. 

For years, city officials had transferred much of the past-due water bill to Yost’s property tax bill. The situation dragged on from 2008 to 2013, until city officials finally got fed up and decided to cut off water to the mobile home park.

Erie County auditor Rick Jeffrey said Yost owes $293,487 on the Hoppers property tax bill, including penalties and interest.

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The original amount of money transferred from the Hoppers water and sewer bill to the property tax bill was $93,062, but the total bill for that is now $197,788.

“Basically, $100,000 of that is penalties and interest,” Jeffrey said.

That $197,000, together with the approximately $60,000 currently owed to the city for water and sewer, amounts to a total delinquent city water bill of about $260,000.

Ed Widman was the city’s finance director in 2008, leaving that position until April 2010. Widman, who now works for the county’s finance department, said that when he and then-city manager Matt Kline discussed the situation in 2008, they didn’t realize it would drag on so long.

“You start with a course of action. You think it’s the right thing to do at the time,” Widman said. “I don’t think we ever envisioned this being a long, drawn out process.”

Yost made his last normal water bill payment, of $1,500, on Jan. 18, 2008, according to city finance records supplied after the Register made a public records request.

After that, as the water and sewer bill continued to pile up, large amounts of the bill were sporadically transferred to Yost’s property tax bill.

By law, whenever Yost made a payment on his property taxes, the portion consisting of the city’s past-due water bill would take priority to receive the payment first, said Hank Solowiej, who replaced Widman as the city’s finance director. 

The city had a longstanding policy of trying to avoid becoming involved in landlord-tenant disputes, as cutting off water essentially allowed landlords to evict tenants without going through the normal eviction process, Widman said.

Widman said he remembers discussing the matter with Kline, but he does not remember ever presenting it to city commissioners.

Solowiej said that when he took over as finance director, he became uncomfortable with the lack of resolution to the problem.

“I wanted some feedback from other people and other departments,” Solowiej said. “It seemed like, to me, this just wasn’t right.”

That led to the current policy of cutting off the water for nonpayment. This, of course, has forced the tenants at Hoppers mobile home park to move by the beginning of August.

In addition to his Hoppers bill, Yost owes property taxes for other properties, Jeffrey said. 

The bill for Yost’s failed Cold Creek housing development in Sandusky, including penalties and interest, is about $1.22 million. Yost also owes about $37,500 for a gas station property near Hoppers.

Comments

samiam

For that kind of money, the city could have installed meters for every lot and then they would have received the tenants' payments. Or why couldn't the city have "garnished" the rent payments? They didn't have any qualms about using eminent domain to acquire the properties they wanted to do the nearby overpass.

Left Sandtown

The city is at partial blame.The State I live in,this would not of happened.First, your Property Taxes are connected to your driving rights,they must be current or no Tags,period.I also rent out a Mobil Home in a park, and they are seperate metered.Either Yost had a buddy in higher place,or just as many things in your Local goes overlooked.My opion,your city has many enteral problems,from the Courts to it`s Goverment.The court system is a joke,fines,sentences,ect.I have watched from afar and have just screamed.These problems should be fixed and there is a way,if you just move some people out of the way!God Bless,the Town you could be.

YoMamma

Again why is he not in jail? Where does he live?

The Answer Person

Autumn Drive off Hull Road by the Plum Brook Country Club...of course.

Darwin's choice

That home was forclosed on several times over the last 6 or 7 years, I believe he lost it.

reporter54

The city or someone should be suing this man and yes a class action lawsuit might be in order. While I feel that the trailer park should be eliminated, the persons living there have a right to help for new housing and a refund of monies paid that were not appropriated properly.

starryeyes83

Your city should NEVER have left him go that long. So, either , he's got something on someone or he's got springy knees.

Makes you wonder how many other slumlords have been doing the same thing and getting away with it.

Sandusky and Erie County have enough corruption to fill a paper, SR....rather than , focusing so much on another.

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 !!!

Cowboy

The tenants need to file a class action law suit while finding a new place to park their home. The city needs to take this situation and learn from it. First of all it never should have gotten this far out of control and this should never happen again. Secondly, every tenant of a mobile home should have an independent meter and should be charged independently.

happyfeet64

An ex parte injunction should be filed immediately on behalf of the remaining residents. And one of the residents themselves can do it without paying court of filing fees. Ask for a fee waiver,fill it out ,stick your right hand up and swear you're poor and can't afford the fees-there you go. Then have everyone get their documentation together, appear in court and see what happens. An ex parte hearing is a legal term that indicates an immediate need to have a motion heard-usually within 48-72 hours depending on the court docket. Personnally, I'm thinking the same as alot of others, that this is the easiest way to displace these people to acquire the property for redevelopment. But, even if I can see improprieties on behalf of the city as well as Yost and a financial settlement for purposes of relocation or reimbursement of relocation fees would be appropriate. Unfortunately, that's going to take a little time and wouldn't solve the problem now. The paperwork for the injunction and fee waivers are pretty straightforward and easy to fill out. A hand written or hand typed motion explaining what is going on and why you seek relief from the court is generally sufficient until a full hearing is ordered. It will give you some time to either find an attorney to represent you(no fee to take the case and pay a % later upon award) and/or more time to move. Just a suggestion.

Darkhorse

It is a matter of the tenants not knowing their legal rights and where to go to turn for help.

VTX Rider

The last payment made to the city for water was in January of 2008. So, I ask again, City of Sandusky, who is responsible for letting this linger for five years? There needs to be some accountability. People are losing their homes and being forced to leave for something they had no control over.

SamAdams

Here's a helpful hint: If a property owner and/or resident can't or won't pay a $1,500 bill, there's a pretty good chance he can't or won't pay a bill that's over $1 million!

I appreciate that the City doesn't shut water off the second a given bill is a day late, but five years? FIVE YEARS??? That's not generosity or kindness. That's just plain stupid. And again, the trailer park residents are the only ones who are REALLY paying the price here (along with City taxpayers, of course, who are out a boatload of money the City should have collected but didn't).

Set up payment plans? Okay. Forgive and forget until forgiveness is as impossible as getting the money? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I'm tempted not to pay my own water bill, especially when it's higher during the summer months due to watering the garden, etc. Heck, if I've got five years, lots of things could happen before I have to pay one thin dime! Right?

Cowboy

The city should be held accountable for their actions in this lawsuit that the tenants need to pursue. And actually the city should be named first in the lawsuit, then individuals of the city who did not perform their job function, then Yost.

Mum-of-One

Constructive eviction is a term used in the law of real property to describe a circumstance in which a landlord either does something or fails to do something that he has a legal duty to provide (e.g. the landlord refuses to provide heat or water to the apartment), rendering the property uninhabitable. A tenant who is constructively evicted may terminate the lease and seek damages.
To maintain an action for damages, the tenant must show that:
the uninhabitable conditions (substantial interferences) were a result of the landlord's actions (not the actions of some third party) and
that the tenant vacated the premises in a reasonable time.
A tenant who suffers from a constructive eviction can claim all of the legal remedies available to a tenant who was actually told to leave

Utility Shutoff
The utility shutoff is a "constructive eviction" done by the landlord to shut off the utilities in the rented premises. When this happens, you can have the utilities turned back on at your expense. You can take legal action against the landlord to recover the expense incurred to have the utilities turned on.

Cowboy

I think Murray and Murray should take this case in good faith for the home owners and sue the crap out of the city and Yost!

gene44870

If I were to file anything , it would not be with a lawyer from around here , I would go out of town cause they have to nothin to lose by standing up to these thugs .And yes I said thugs , Its just this kind of things that make you sick and is not different then a thug that robs you at gun point

Cowboy

I agree!

There you go again

What are you going to get out of Yost?!?!

pavedparadise

Fresh squeezed turnips

Mum-of-One

As I understand it a bankruptcy can fail if a Creditor challenges your ability to receive a discharge due to fraud or hiding of an asset.
I wonder if Yost's bankruptcy can be challenged if it has not already been discharged?

Darwin's choice

Like his wife's home quit claim deeded to her daughter last year? Hope the court searches this out!

kURTje

Remember this: He will be stammed in the garden of evil. Just as laws of physics exist, so also are spiritual laws. There is no escaping it.

gene44870

I really dont think at this point that Yost cares what he owes the city , he in my opionon dont have any intentions of making it right or tring to work with the city as well as the residents of that trailer park .
I really dont have any idea why the register or the city would even bring this to light , maybe its a way to justify them doing what they are doing in shutting off the water and evicting lawfull residents .
This does not make it right what they are doing , just because the owner has the responsablity of the water bill and its out of the residents hands .

thinktwice

Seems there should have been intervention long before now. Also maybe an ordnance which places health related liability on property owners of larger living communities such as this when they put their tennants at risk. ...Not sure just my 2 cents worth.

gene44870

could not agree with you more accept to say , if you do , then you should go by the letter of it and not plead it down to make it easier on the owners

Unassumer

He's not going to hell...he's the landlord there. He'll never pay this money and probably there will be no repercussions. The park will be razed and the property sold to someone else. The people will be left to their own devices and have to find other places to live. The city should have taken this man to court years ago before it got to this point.

queenjhb

SR please put a list of landlords that haven't paid property taxes in over a year or so. It really might be an eye opener .

pavedparadise

All part of the City's Comprehensive and Strategic Plan for redeveloping this spot.

There you go again

I think Yost is toast (with a little help from the city to get him where he is)!!!

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