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Task Force Targeting Problem Properties in Newport Nets $178,000

A Property Task Force that was formed last year by the City of Newport has collected $178,000 delinquent property taxes and unpaid fees and fines.

Former city commissioner John Hayden is now an assistant city attorney for Newport and is leading the task force. He reported on the results since the effort started last year with the help of the code enforcement, police, public works, and legal departments, and the city clerk.

"I appreciate the Board (of City Commissioners) approving and moving forward with this program," said Newport City Manager Tom Fromme. "The Task Force has been a success and it's work will continue."

The Task Force targets problem properties, which are defined as homes and apartments that fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Delinquent taxes
  • Unpaid fines
  • Frequent police calls
  • Liens
  • Persistent complaints
  • No rental license

Hayden said he uses a variety of methods to contact and engage property owners, including letters, phone calls and meetings. Legal action is also an option, but so far he has only had to file two lawsuits against property owners to collect money owed to the city.

"Most people, once they are contacted, want to work out a resolution," Hayden said.

"You've done a great job," Commissioner Beth Fennell told Hayden during a recent City Commission meeting. "This is $178,000 we otherwise would not have had."

"Our intent is not to put anyone out of their home," Fromme said. Instead, it's a message to say, "We mean business," Fromme said.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: John Hayden presents the task force's findings to the Newport city commission (RCN)