FPUD approves placing unpaid charges on property tax bills

The Fallbrook Public Utility District approved an agreement with the County of San Diego to place unpaid water and sewer fixed charges on property tax bills.

FPUD’s board voted 3-1 June 23, with Archie McPhee opposed and Don McDougal absent, to authorize the office of the San Diego County Auditor and Controller to assess a fixed charge special assessment to add unpaid charges for water and other services on the property tax bills of the parcels with the unpaid FPUD bills.

“This is an annual exercise where we take unpaid standby charges that we put on the county tax rolls and the district recovers 95 percent of those obligations from the county,” said FPUD general manager Brian Brady.

The list of delinquent properties must be transmitted annually. “We don’t have an automatic mechanism. The board has to take an affirmative action every year,” Brady said.

In many cases the transfer to the property tax bill is by mutual agreement rather than by use of the county as a collection agency. “We try to work closely with the property owners who have outstanding balances and frequently the property owner will request that the obligation be put on the tax rolls,” Brady said. “It’s not a last resort.”

Sewer charges for properties served by the San Diego County Sanitation District, which was created in 2011 by the merger of the nine sanitation districts served by the county’s Department of Public Works, are placed on property tax bills, as were sewer charges for the individual districts prior to the merger. The arrangement between FPUD and the county is thus equivalent to the situation of tax bills for properties within a local water district but within the San Diego County Sanitation District rather than within a water district which provides sewer services.

An unpaid property tax bill results in a lien against the property, but payments must be delinquent for five years before the county can take the property and sell it at auction or to an interested public agency. Payment of delinquent property taxes to release a lien is required for a change in parcel ownership to another private party. “Frequently the obligation’s paid when the property’s transferred in escrow to another owner,” Brady said.

Property owners with unpaid charges for water and other services were notified by mail at the beginning of May that the unpaid charges might be added to and become a part of the annual taxes levied on the property.

FPUD will submit an electronic list of parcels with delinquent and other unpaid charges to the Auditor and Controller office by Aug. 11.

6 Responses to "FPUD approves placing unpaid charges on property tax bills"

  1. Ruth Noyes   July 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Well, follow the money! When we purchased our home here in Fallbrook, a real estate agent warned us about FPUD at that time. Had this warning come before docs were signed, I would have heeded. The home was in foreclosure and the water bill had not been paid on our home. FPUD told us we had to pay the previous owner’s bill. When I questioned FPUD the representative answering the phone, she could not tell me by what authority they had to ask anyone to pay the bill’s of another…she did not know. When I asked to be transferred to the GM, someone named Ruth would not put me through and said this decision came at a board’s vote. So, they do what they want because they voted on it? Good to know. Water Districts do not fall under the PUC like gas, electric and telephone, it is a club run amok. Maybe these people can’t pay their bill, did they ever think of that? It appears that kicking people when they are down is what FPUD does best. In case there was any lingering doubt, I am not a FPUD Fan and the only facts I have ever received were from Archie McPhee. GOD help those homeowners! And yes, I do see alternative methods for collecting the bills…if the bill is legitimate.

  2. Paul   July 14, 2014 at 7:26 am

    @Ruth: The reason FPUD can make you pay the former owners bill is by charging the property rather than the person living there. The home you bought still owes for the water it has used, so therefore, if you want more water, the house has to pay up. Sounds ridiculous I know, but somehow it manages to be legal.

  3. DJ   July 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    @ Ruth

    This is what every water company does. Perhaps you should have done a little bit of work on your part to discover if there was any outstanding liens or water bills. You’d think that with what is likely the biggest purchase anyone would ever make they would do some. Hopefully a little unpaid water bill is the worst of your worries with the property you bought.

  4. Omen   July 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Well see what happens if Fpud does take Over Rainbow their may be more fpud/ board level decisions that might cause concerns

  5. Huh?   July 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Rainbow does it too; most do or they don’t get paid at all. You know who pays when the water district doesn’t get paid? The rest of us folks who pay their water bills–that’s who. These agencies don’t have their own funds, so when a deadbeat skips out on a bill the rest of the customers pay. Kudos to FPUD and RMWD for taking this extra step to make sure the right people pay.

  6. To Ruth   July 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I agree with you. You shouldn’t have to pay for the the previous owner received. FPUD or Rainbow or whatever agency should go after the deadbeats! I’m sure though, that in the end we, the people, have to pay the burden of deadbeats in higher water rates.
    This practice may be legal (good ‘ol boys stick together) but it’s not right.


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