Letter to the Editor
The other day I received a piece of certified mail at my home address of 3XXX Meadowbrook, University Heights, Ohio. The certified mail was a court summons from the City of Cleveland Heights for “Failure to Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for 2011” for the home located at 2XXX Princeton Road in Cleveland Heights (Housing File Number 113067). You can imagine my complete confusion and alarm upon reading the inspection complaint, and, even more so, the accompanying notice for the warrant of my arrest based on said violation. But here’s the thing: the mail was forwarded on by the postal service to my current address, where I reside, on Meadowbrook in University Heights. I have not owned or occupied the Princeton Road, Cleveland Heights, property in question since August of 2004.
While many could consider this a harmless administrative error, to me it is frustrating on many levels. I strongly feel that, at the community level, residents of Cleveland Heights deserve better than this. Cleveland Heights residents pay high taxes and deserve competent services from their city, including properly managing records and enforcing laws. The absurd and inexcusable issue here is that ALL of the necessary property ownership information needed to avoid mistakes like the one I described is available to everyone, free of charge at the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer’s website. This parcel search service is free to everyone, including City of Cleveland Height employees. As such, I would strongly suggest the City of Cleveland Heights do a little fact checking on these types of issues BEFORE sending out erroneous, unwarranted and costly court summons via certified mail.
The cost of this one mistake isn't outrageous, but I imagine that this isn't an isolated incident. Better record keeping is essential if there is any hope of running a financially efficient operation. The time and process of the waste of certified mail that I received (violations inspection sheet, court documents, etc.) is certainly not what I would consider sound fiscal management. Given that the City of Cleveland Heights is already an extremely tax-heavy city that is burdensome to the majority of its residents, I think it’s fair to say doing some homework first could certainly save residents a few hard-earned dollars.