Zombie homes have been a problem in Monroe County for years.
In the past, maintenance funding was provided by the county, through added charges on property taxes. But now, the county is saying “no more.”
The towns of Irondequoit and Brighton are now taking legal action against Monroe County, as the county decided to no longer add maintenance and demolition fees to property tax bills. Now, it’s up to the individual towns to foot the bill.
“It impacts our ability to address property maintenance and so-called zombie home issues that are a concern to people,” says Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle.
The so-called zombie homes, or vacant homes, are in every town in Monroe. Before, towns were given funds to provide maintenance to these properties or would help financially when it was time to demolish these homes. However, the Brighton Town Supervisor says on December 31st, 2016, the county surprisingly stopped these funds.
“By refusing to work with us to make sure that the charges for cleaning up these properties are not collected and enforced, that hurts the whole county and it certainly hurts the Town of Brighton,” says Moehle.
“After trying to converse with the county and talking with other supervisors, the Town of Brighton and the Town of Irondequoit filed to annul the county’s policy,” said Irondequoit Town Supervisor Dave Seeley.
Monroe County provided a statement to News 8, saying:
“The suit by two towns attempts to force residents in other towns throughout this county to subsidize their own budgets.”
However, Supervisor Seeley says what the county is doing is illegal.
“These specific types of taxes, the property maintenance charges, demolition charges that we have fixed with a tax bill, are treated as taxes and need to be guaranteed,” he says.
The towns of Irondequoit and Brighton served the litigation papers to the county on Thursday, but they are still waiting on a direct response.
Both town supervisors say, if the county does not meet them in the middle, all parties will be meeting in court in the upcoming weeks.