DAVIDSON – A citizen inquiry led to town response, which has resulted in fee reimbursements for several dozen residents who qualify for special consideration based on financial status and other factors.
At the town board’s June 12 meeting, commissioners authorized Finance Director Pieter Swart to distribute $15,936.82 in solid waste account refunds from Mecklenburg County to the owners of 25 in-town parcels. Swart expects money for refunds for up to 19 more parcels in the coming weeks.
The town’s investigation of the fees and the pursuit of refunds began after a member of the Save Davidson organization questioned why residents enrolled in a special program were not receiving the fee exemptions the program is designed to provide.
“At a coffee chat session, one of our citizens asked a question about Homestead exemptions and said there were people being charged solid waste fees who shouldn’t be,” Swart said. “We felt it was something we should explore.”
Swart said the Homestead program, which offers fee and tax relief for enrolled property owners who meet financial or disability standards, is supervised by the county. The county also collects the fees. In the town’s investigation, Swart said it was determined 34 property owners in the Homestead program were erroneously charged the town’s $201 solid waste fee by the county last year.
A look back at the previous five years showed some owners had been charged several times and also uncovered an additional 10 cases.
Swart said the town sent letters to each property owner informing them about the situation and also provided information about how to submit refund applications, which must come from the Homestead program participant.
Swart said in a few cases, letters came back undelivered because the property owner had moved.
For those, Swart said members of the town’s code enforcement team – who regularly travel throughout the town – were asked to help find whatever information they could that might help the town locate property owners or families due for a refund.
“Davidson is a small town, and we’re close enough to all of residents we feel like we can help when something like this happens,” Swart said. “This is a county issue, and I don’t know if it was a clerical error or a system change that caused the problem, but when we heard about it we wanted to do what we could to clear it up.”
Swart said he expects about $26,000 in total refunds, so he’s waiting for around $10,000 more from the county to complete the reimbursements. He said most of the refunds are for several hundred dollars, and a few covering the last five years are just more than $1,000.
Swart said the town is still working to find a few people due for refunds and that anyone with questions about possible reimbursements or the Homestead program should call his office, 704-940-9648.