Dunedin, FL — When Kristi Allen received a notice from the city in the mailbox last year — telling her she owed them $103,559 — she thought it just had to be a scam. It certainly is a scam, but one being carried out by her own government and one she is legally obligated to pay or face the consequences. Her alleged “crime” to justify the fine, which was twice her yearly income? Tall grass and a dirty pool.
Allen’s letter stated that she had two weeks to pay the fine or she would be sued. Naturally, Allen couldn’t come up with six figures in the two week time frame she was given, so now the city of Dunedin is suing her. The subsequent lawsuit could bankrupt this mother of two and leave her family homeless. But at least the citizens of Dunedin are “protected” from dirty pools and untrimmed shrubs, right?
“I haven’t woken up from it yet,” Allen said, describing the nightmare that is this situation. Sadly, this is a nightmare for many other people as well. Governments across the country levy massive fines against citizens for similar “infractions.”
According to a report from USA Today,
Dunedin, a small seaside city outside Tampa, cracks down on code violations, saddling homeowners with massive fines while its revenue grows. In 5½ years, the city has collected nearly $3.6 million in fines – sometimes tens of thousands at a time – for violating laws that prohibit grasses taller than 10 inches, recreational vehicles parked on streets at certain hours or sidings and bricks that don’t match.
The Supreme Court ruled in February that local governments can’t impose excessive fines. The decision is among the first constraints by the federal government on how much money cities and states can charge people for everything from speeding to overgrown lawns. But the court did not say what should be considered excessive, leaving local governments and residents with a question: How much is too much?
Fines are a reliable source of revenue for cash-starved cities, and have become a big – and rapidly growing – business for local governments.States, cities and counties collected a total of $15.3 billion in fines and forfeitures in 2016, according to the most recent financial records collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a 44% jump from a decade earlier.
Fines and Fees Justice Center, an advocacy group out of New York, found that some municipalities, Florida included, have increased fines like this more than 100% in just the last decade. This is an attempt to bolster their bottom lines and increase revenue to line the pockets of the fat cats in the government.
Adding to the Gestapo-esque nature of the fines against Allen is the fact that she didn’t even own the house anymore when the fines began. According to the report, “as far as she knew, she relinquished ownership of the house when she agreed to the foreclosure in 2011. Her name stayed in property records because the foreclosure was not finalized until late 2014. By then, the city had been fining Allen for several months.”
Despite Allen and her family leaving the home three years prior, the city began fining her in 2014 and continued to fine her for years after. Even after the foreclosure was finalized — and Allen officially no longer owned the home — tax addicted bureaucrats continued to fine her, for years.
“It defies common sense that someone could all of a sudden owe $100k where they had no idea there was even an issue,” her attorney, Ben Hillard, said.
Nevertheless, the government is continuing to put pressure on Allen to get their money.
Allen is not alone either. As TFTP reported earlier this year, another man is going to lose his home to these same tax-addicted thugs because of long grass.
Jim Ficken is not a criminal, has never been in jail, and is a model citizen in the town of Dunedin, Florida. However, the government intends to rob him and steal his home because Ficken’s grass grew too long and Ficken was unable to cut it.
The entire police state overreach began for Ficken last year when he was out of town trying to take care of his late mother’s estate and his grass did what grass does, it grew. Knowing that it is unpleasing to neighbors to grow long grass, Ficken hired a friend to cut it for him while he was away, but that friend died and Ficken had no idea.
Because Ficken’s grass was over 10 inches, the city government claimed Jim owed them money. Every day that Ficken kept his grass over the “legal limit,” the government would steal $500 from him. This went on for 57 days, and now, the government claims Ficken owes them nearly $30,000.
Like Allen, Ficken cannot pay this insane amount of money. Being unable to pay immoral fines imposed on one’s private property by goons in the local government is of no concern to said goons and they intend on getting their money—by any means necessary. So, they are going to take his home.
In May, the city informed Ficken that they will be stealing his home by moving toward foreclosure on it.