City of Brentwood
Home PageContact Us!Back

City Administration

2010 Council Goals and Strategic Plan | City Council Members | Calendar of Events | Elections
eNotification | Sub-Committees| Pledge of Allegiance Sign Ups | Invocation Sign Up
Live Streaming Council Meeting | Streaming PC Help |
Streaming Mac Help |

Current Council Agenda and Past Meeting Information

CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 14

Meeting Date: November 18, 2008

Subject/Title: Adopt 1) A Resolution Authorizing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to Approve, File, and Release Liens for Past Due Property Related Administrative Citations and 2) A Resolution Approving Amendments to City Council/Administrative Policy No. 10-15, Collection Policy, Allowing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to Approve, File, and Release Liens for Past Due Property Related Administrative Citations

Submitted by: Kerry Breen, Business Services Manager

Approved by: Pam Ehler, Director of Finance and Information Systems

RECOMMENDATION
Adopt 1) A Resolution Authorizing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to Approve, File, and Release Liens for Past Due Property Related Administrative Citations and 2) A Resolution Approving Amendments to City Council/Administrative Policy No. 10-15, Collection Policy, Allowing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to Approve, File, and Release Liens for Past Due Property Related Administrative Citations.

PREVIOUS ACTION
On February 12, 2008, the City Council approved Ordinance 856 amending Chapter 1.08 of the Brentwood Municipal Code to add Section 1.08.115 (Recordation of Notices and Assessments) and to amend section 1.08.30 (Recovery of Administrative Fines and Costs).

On May 13, 2008, the City Council approved Resolution 2008-113 adopting the Collection Policy (City Council/Administrative Policy No.10-15)

BACKGROUND
Government Code Section 53069.4 (a)(1) states that the City Council may, by ordinance, make any violation of any ordinance subject to an administrative citation fine or penalty. It further states that the City Council shall set forth by ordinance, procedures that govern the collection of those administrative citation fines or penalties.

Brentwood Municipal Code Section 1.08.130 states the City Manager may collect any past-due administrative citation, fine, or late payment charge by use of all available legal means, and that choice of a remedy does not affect the City’s ability to use alternative remedies.

The Collection Policy (City Council/Administrative Policy No #10-15) (the “Policy) outlines a process for staff to follow when collecting past due amounts. Among other things, it allows the City to place liens and assessments on the property of property owners who do not pay their past due administrative citation fines.



The Policy currently states that before a lien can be placed on a property, the City Council must adopt a resolution authorizing the recording of the liens prior to staff submitting the listing to the County Recorder’s Office. This requirement was included in order to satisfy the County’s filing regulations which state that the City Council must approve all liens prior to their recordation. Since the adoption of the Policy, staff has received confirmation from the County that City Council may to delegate this lien approval authority and still satisfy County regulations.

The increased enforcement efforts by Code Enforcement staff, the increase in abandoned and foreclosed properties, the related increase in the amount of uncollectible accounts, and the Council’s desire to utilize the lien process to encourage compliance with the municipal code have led staff to recommend that the City Council delegate authority to the Director of Finance and Information Systems to approve the placement of liens for property related citations.

Authorizing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to approve the filing of the liens will greatly enhance staff’s ability to record liens in a timely manner. This is critical in the current environment where foreclosures and bank owned properties are changing hands at a record pace. This would also allow staff to file liens no less than monthly which will ensure prompt recording at the Contra Costa County Recorder’s Office and enhance the City’s collection efforts.

As staff has indicated at prior City Council meetings, the magnitude and scope of the current economic downturn is unprecedented, particularly as it relates to code enforcement efforts. Staff is now utilizing enforcement and collection tools which have not previously been employed to help mitigate the negative impacts on neighborhoods. As these new tools are used for the first time, there may be the need for occasional adjustments and improvements. Tonight’s request is one such set of adjustments. It is anticipated that as staff continues to refine the collection process, future improvements will be identified and brought to Council for consideration.

These modifications are of a technical nature and are being suggested to expedite the collection process. As such, these changes were not brought to a Neighborhood Improvement Subcommittee meeting. Subcommittee members were, however, provided with an advance copy of the proposed revisions. Should staff identify future revisions of a more programmatic or substantive nature, they will first be brought to the Subcommittee for review.

Staff is recommending that City Council approve two separate resolutions. The first, authorizing the Finance Director to approve and file liens; and the second amending the Policy. Although the two resolutions accomplish essentially the same goal, the first will facilitate future lien submissions as staff is required to provide the County with a Council Resolution approving authority of the Director of Finance and Information Systems with each submission. By not including the Policy with each lien filed, staff is hoping to avoid administrative confusion at the County level.

In order to facilitate your review, the amendments to the Policy have been displayed in red.

FISCAL IMPACT
Approval of these items will improve staff efficiency and increase the likelihood that the past-due administrative fines will be collected. There are no additional expenses associated with these items and the amount of increased collections is not known at this time.



Attachments:
Resolution Authorizing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to Approve, File, and Release Liens for Past Due Property Related Administrative Citations Resolution

Resolution Approving Amendments to City Council/Administrative Policy No. 10-15, Collection Policy Allowing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to Approve, File, and Release Liens for Past Due Property Related Administrative Citations

Amended City Council/Administrative Policy No 10-15, Collection Policy


RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD AUTHORIZING THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO APPROVE, FILE, AND RELEASE LIENS FOR PAST DUE PROPERTY RELATED ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS

WHEREAS, the City’s Collection Policy (City Council/Administrative Policy No 10-15) (“the Policy”) outlines a process for staff to follow when collecting past due code enforcement administrative fines and costs; and

WHEREAS, authorizing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to approve the filing of the liens will greatly enhance staff’s ability to record liens in a timely manner; and

WHEREAS, this authorization is in compliance with Brentwood Municipal Code Section 1.08.130 and California Government Code 53069.4.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood hereby authorizes the Director of Finance and Information Systems to approve, file, and release liens for property related citations.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at a regular meeting held on the November 18, 2008 by the following vote:


RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD AMENDING CITY COUNCIL/ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY NO 10-15, COLLECTION POLICY, ALLOWING THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO APPROVE, FILE, AND RELEASE LIENS FOR PAST DUE PROPERTY RELATED ADMINISTRATIVE CITATIONS

WHEREAS, the City’s Collection Policy (City Council/Administrative Policy No 10-15) (“the Policy”) outlines a process for staff to follow when collecting past due code enforcement fines and costs; and

WHEREAS, the Policy currently states that before a lien can be placed on the property the City Council must adopt a resolution authorizing the recording of the lien; and

WHEREAS, authorizing the Director of Finance and Information Systems to approve the filing of the liens will greatly enhance staff’s ability to record liens in a timely manner; and

WHEREAS, this authorization is in compliance with Brentwood Municipal Code Section 1.08.130 and California Government Code 53069.4.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood hereby amends City Council/Administrative Policy 10-15 Collection Policy as detailed in the attached “Exhibit A”.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at a regular meeting held on the November 18, 2008 by the following vote:





















1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines to maximize the collection of accounts receivable in a professional and consistent manner.

2. POLICY

2.1 Applicability

The provision of this policy applies to the collection of all accounts receivable. City staff will utilize all legal means to collect payments due to the City under Federal and State Statutes that govern collection practices, including: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, The Fair Credit Reporting Act, California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act under Civil Code 1788, and the Brentwood Municipal Code (“Code”).

3. PROCEDURES

The Business Services Division of the Finance and Information Systems Department (“Finance”) is responsible for the collection of revenues that are owed to the City. When accounts become past due, the City will take certain collection actions that may include, but are not limited to: invoicing, sending statements or notices, making phone calls, and placing special assessments, liens or court judgments. The City may also utilize a collection agency to assist in the collection process.

The collection action taken will depend on the type of account being collected.

Certain types of accounts receivable are listed below with guidelines on how to proceed with the collection process.

4. TYPES OF ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE

4.1 Utility Billing

The due date for utility bills is dictated by Code. If the invoice for utilities is not paid by the due date, the collection process in initiated. The next course of action will depend upon whether the customer account is active or closed.

4.1.1 Active Accounts

• If payment is not received by the due date, notices are mailed to account holders on the thirtieth and the thirty-seventh day after the original bill date.





• Service will be disconnected if not paid by the fortieth day after the original bill date. (Code Section 14.01.580)

4.1.2 Closed Accounts

• If payment is not received by the due date, notices are mailed to account holders on the thirtieth day after the original bill date.

• If not paid by the sixtieth day after the original bill date, the account is scheduled to be assigned to collections.

• Prior to assigning to collections, Utility Billing staff will review existing accounts to determine if former account holder(s) has/have an active account. If an active account exists, the final balance on the closed account will be transferred to the active account and the customer is notified. (Code Section 14.01.160)

• If no active account exists, the account is assigned to collections

• If a former account holder with an outstanding balance or a prior account tries to open a new account, water service shall be refused until all outstanding charges are paid.

4.2 Citations & Abatement Orders

Designated enforcement officers have the authority to issue citations for violations of Municipal Code. Payment of a citation is required within 30 days from the date of citation issuance. (Code Sections 1.08.040 & 1.08.060)

Payment for costs associated with an abatement order is required by the due date indicated on the invoice. (Code Section 8.00.040)

The designated enforcement officer will forward the following to Finance so that an invoice can be issued:
• all citations
• all abatement orders, if costs are associated with them, including supporting documentation for those costs

If the invoice is not paid by the due date, the next course of action is based on whether the amount owed is for a citation or abatement.

4.2.1 Citations

• Citation fines shall be paid to the City within (30) thirty days from the date of the citation. (Code Section 1.08.060)


• Any recipient of a citation may contest the violation of the Code or that he/she is the responsible person. The individual shall deliver a letter to the City Clerk within (30) thirty days from the date of the citation to request a hearing. Payment due for the citation must be included with the hearing request. (Code Section 1.08.070)

• The City Clerk will notify Finance of hearing requests and decisions of the hearing officer.

• If the citation is cancelled, a refund will be issued. If the citation is upheld the City will retain the fine amount. (Code Section 1.08.110)

• If a hearing is not requested, collection actions will proceed if the citation is not paid by the due date. Finance will determine the most effective way to proceed with the collection options available, including collections actions used for Other Accounts Receivable. (Section 5 of this Policy)

• The designated enforcement officer may record a notice of pending action with Contra Costa County’s Recorders Office. (Code Section 1.08.015)

• The City may use all available legal means which includes, but is not limited to: recovery through the small claims court or a lien and or placement of a special assessment on the real property upon which the citation was issued. A lien against the real property must be recorded with the County’s Assessors Recorder’s office prior to the placement of a special assessment. (Code Section 1.08.130)

• Before a lien can be placed on a property, the Director of Finance and Information Systems must approve the lien listing authorizing the recording of the lien.

• Before a lien or special assessment can be placed on a property, the City Council must adopt a resolution authorizing the recording of the lien or special assessment.

• After Council the Director of Finance and Information Systems has authorized the placement of the lien on the property, the City Clerk will follow the necessary procedures to place the lien on the property for the unpaid fines. (Code Section 1.08.130)

• In order to release a lien, a payment in cash or certified funds must be submitted to the City. After payment is received, the Director of Finance and Information Systems or designee will sign the Release of Lien which will be given to the property owner for filing with the County Recorder’s Officer.

• After Council has authorized the placement of the special assessment on the property, Finance will follow the necessary procedures to place the fines due for the citation as a special assessment on the real property. (California Government Code 38773.1 and 38773.5 and 53069.4) (Code Section 1.08.130)

4.2.2 Abatement Orders

• The responsible party who has received an abatement notice/order may file an appeal with the City Clerk within seven days from the date of the notice/order. A hearing will be scheduled and a hearing officer appointed. (Code Section 8.00.060)

• If there are costs associated with the abatement order and an appeal is upheld by the hearing officer, the City Clerk will submit a copy of the report of action and an accurate accounting of the cost of abatement including supporting documentation to Finance and an invoice will be issued. (Code Section 8.00.110)

• The designated enforcement officer may record a notice of pending action with Contra Costa’s County Recorders Office. (Code Section 1.08.015)

• If the responsible party does not pay the cost of abating the nuisance within thirty calendar days after receiving the invoice for abatement cost, the cost can become a lien and or special assessment against the real property upon which the nuisance was abated. (California Government Code 38773.1 and 38773.5 and 53069.4) (Code Section 8.00.130)

• Before a lien or special assessment can be placed on a property, the City Council must adopt a resolution authorizing the recording of the lien or special assessment.

• After Council has authorized the placement of the lien on the property, the City Clerk will follow the necessary procedures to place the lien for the abatement cost. (California Government Code 38773.1 and 38773.5 and 53069.4) (Code Section 1.08.130)

• After Council has authorized the placement of the special assessment on the property, Finance will follow the necessary procedures to place a special assessment for the abatement cost (California Government Code 38773.1 and 38773.5 and 53069.4) (Code Section 1.08.130)






4.3 Overtime Inspection

Overtime Inspection is a service provided by the City for inspections that are done after normal working hours. Departments are responsible for providing Finance with the overtime hours and billing information so that an invoice can be generated. Payment is due within 30 days from the invoice date.

If the invoice is not paid within 30 days, overtime inspections will be stopped until payment in full is made and the standard collection process is followed as indicated in Other Accounts Receivable. (Section 5 of this Policy)

5. OTHER ACCOUNTS RECIVABLE

Accounts not list above will follow the standard collection practice as noted below and in a manner consistent with this policy.

Collection Action

• At 30 days past the invoice date, a reminder notice is sent to the responsible party requesting payment upon receipt.

• At 60 days past the invoice date, a past due notice is sent to the responsible party requesting payment within 10 days of receipt.

• At 90 days past the invoice date, an urgent demand notice is sent to the responsible party requesting payment within 5 days of receipt.

• If at 120 days the citation is not paid, upon approval of the Director or his/her designee, a notice is sent informing the customer that their account is being referred to a collection agency.

• At 120 days the account will be forwarded to the collection agency including any identifying customer information on file such as address, telephone number, driver’s license and social security number.

6. COLLECTION FEES/PENALITES

The Cost Allocation Plan and Schedule of Fees will allow the City to recover costs for attorney services, collection agency services and costs associated with liens and assessments. Staff will recover the applicable fees which is determined by the type of collection item.

7. PAYMENT PLAN

In order to utilize all means available to collect outstanding receivables, the Director or his/her designee has the authority to execute payment plan agreements.

8. UNCOLLECTIBLE RECEIVABLES

It is the intent of the City to reflect the value of its receivables and ensure that resources are used efficiently and not devoted to the recovery of uncollectible receivables; therefore, the City will not assign an account to a collection agency for an amount less then $25.00.

The timely identification of losses is an essential element in appropriately measuring the value of the City’s assets. When an outstanding receivable is determined to be uncollectible, a write-off will be accomplished pursuant to Council Administrative Policy 10-5 Budget and Fiscal Policies.

The Director or his/her designee has the authority to settle uncollectible accounts up to the limit granted for write-offs in Policy 10-5 Budget and Fiscal Policies.
 
City Administration
City of Brentwood City Council
150 City Park Way
Brentwood, CA 94513
(925) 516-5440
Fax (925) 516-5441
E-mail allcouncil@brentwoodca.gov