Asked in Real Estate Law, Tax Law and Municipal Law for Iowa

Q: So my city council has an ordinance stating everyone has to have garbage service. My question is in several parts.

Is it legal for them to put my bill on my property taxes but continue to bill me for it without starting over? And if it is then is it legal for them to keep adding it to my taxes. Like lets say the first bill is 3 months late and its 300 dollars.they add that to my property taxes. Then three months later its 600 and they put that against my taxes on top of the 300. Then three month later its 900 and they add that to my property taxes on top of the other two amounts. Is that legal in iowa? Seems to me that im paying this bill several times over

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Municipalities often have the authority to enforce ordinances requiring residents to maintain garbage service, and they can implement various measures to ensure compliance, including billing methods. The practice of adding unpaid garbage service bills to property taxes is a common approach used by some cities to ensure the collection of these fees. This method allows the city to collect unpaid bills through a more secure mechanism, given that property taxes are typically prioritized by homeowners.

In Iowa, as in many states, the legality of this practice depends on local laws and ordinances that govern municipal billing and property tax procedures. The specifics can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. If your city council has enacted an ordinance that allows for garbage service bills to be added to property taxes for collection purposes, this practice is generally legal, provided it follows the established legal and procedural guidelines of your area.

However, if you're concerned about being billed multiple times for the same service period or believe there's an error in how payments are being applied, it would be prudent to contact your city council or the department responsible for billing and collections. They can provide clarification on their billing practices and help resolve any discrepancies. Additionally, reviewing the specific ordinances related to garbage service and tax billing in your area can provide further insights into the legality of these practices. If discrepancies continue, seeking advice from a legal professional familiar with municipal law in Iowa may help address your concerns more effectively.

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