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The city of Shelbyville’s determination to begin an aggressive crackdown on property owners who don’t follow the city’s ordinances is both strong in might and clear in hindsight.
City leaders said last week that they plan again to pursue homeowners who aren’t making required repairs in sidewalks that abut their property and that they would foreclose on property owners who are arrears in their taxes.
The lamentations from property owners about these bold responses to their failure to abide by the laws is amazing to us. Surely they’ve heard the axiom that you can’t fight city hall.
In this case, they don’t even have a weapon to do so.
Like them or not, property taxes are a primary source of income for all city and county governmental bodies, and they are the equally – even if you don’t except fairly – applied to all.
If you choose to live in a jurisdiction, you have to pay your toll, and those primarily are property taxes.
You want your property protected from plunder. You want emergency personnel to be there when you need them. You like your street patched and your debris recycled, you have to pay for those services.
And, if you don’t, the city is simply like any other creditor who can take legal action against your holdings – in this case, even take your home.
The judgment is harsh, but this is about fairness. And we think taxes are the responsibility of us all.
Now, we understand the sidewalks are a point of more significant debate, which seems a bit stunning by comparison.
You would think residents would be far more riled about losing their homes than being billed for a service, which essentially is what the sidewalk repair process will be.
If you own property in the prescribed area and inspectors find your sidewalks acrumble, you can hire someone to do the work, or the city will do it for you and send you the bill.
But the ordinance is clear: You own the responsibility along with the property – though no one may have told you in advance.
Some of you have said you might go to court against the city on this issue, and you certainly have that right.
That’s one way to change a law, but it will be a difficult and costly battle, probably far more costly than some concrete repairs. Think about that.
The per-hour rate for pouring concrete is decidedly less than that of the average practicing attorney, and the city’s response likely would run up that tab very quickly.
You may win, but financially you may lose. Your choice.
To us the bottom line is this: You chose to buy property in the city of Shelbyville, and you have to abide by those ordinances – or change them.
There are 12 people signed up to run for city council this year. You will have plenty of choices. That’s your best bet for getting these laws changed, that’s the democratic approach.
Think about that before you look for other solutions.
Otherwise, on these matters, you can’t fight city hall.