Rockingham County to Collect Nuisance Fees for Cities, Towns

Industry Update
July 4, 2018

Source: Rockingham Now

Additional Resources:

UNC School of Government (Fighting Blight with Property Tax Bills)

Center for Community Progress (CCP) (Implementing a Coordinated Approach to Address the Systemic Causes of Vacancy and Abandonment in High Point, North Carolina full report)

A handful of local municipalities will get some help from Rockingham County in collecting fees for nuisance abatement starting this month.

Earlier this year, a project was presented to the county commissioners to add city and town nuisance abatement fees to the county’s tax bills that are sent to property owners every July.

“The idea came out of Eden and a commissioner,” said Mark McClintock, county tax director.

What spurred it on, he explained, was a UNC School of Government study on fighting urban blight in High Point. Adding the code enforcement fees to the tax bills prompted some payments.

Eden, Stoneville and Reidsville have already submitted their paperwork, McClintock said, although all municipalities in Rockingham County have shown interest in the program. It’s a little more complicated for Wentworth, as the town does not have a tax rate for the county to collect.

The Reidsville City Council just approved the change on June 12.

When the city steps in and performs tasks that property owners fail to do, such as mowing grass or demolishing a condemned structure, the cost incurred by the city is passed along to the property owner.

However, according to Reidsville Assistant City Manager Chris Phillips, these charges are some of the most difficult to collect, even after researching ownership through the county’s tax records.

“Primarily, the owners are usually hard to track down. They are deceased with no clear heirs or there are multiple heirs with no one person taking responsibility,” Phillips said in a June 1 memo to the city manager.

“The same reason the properties got into bad condition makes finding a person to pay difficult,” he continued.

A lien is put on the property, and when the property changes hands, if the closing attorney does a proper lien search, the city gets paid. If not, the new owner is billed.

“Unfortunately, the related properties are not very marketable and do not get sold often,” Phillips said.

On June 12, Phillips addressed the entire city council about the issue – and about the opportunity the city has through the county to recoup nuisance fees.

“A while back, the county started working on the ability to put our nuisance fees on the tax bill. Every property gets a tax bill annually, and there are procedures to go through if you do not pay your tax bill,” Phillips said.

“With the county, if you don’t pay your taxes, at some point the county will consider foreclosing on your property,” he said. “The county has become a little more aggressive in the last couple of years at foreclosing. They have foreclosed on some properties in our city; these properties usually end up on the courthouse steps at auction.”

Phillips said sometimes a neighbor will buy the property and turn it into a community garden or park.

“The county was looking at [fee collection] as an experiment, and we said if we can do it, let’s do it,” he said.

An interlocal agreement between the city and county has been in place since 1992, enabling the county to collect municipal ad valorem taxes. That agreement had to be amended to include Reidsville’s nuisance abatement fees. The Rockingham County Board of Commissioners approved the amendment on June 4, followed by Reidsville Council’s immediate and unanimous approval.

Phillips is confident this change will increase the Reidsville’s collection rate of nuisance fees – although it only applies to new fees, not fees the city is already trying to collect.

“It will be clear what is owed on the property because it will be part of the tax bill,” he said. “It’s going to be clear that foreclosure is a possibility. A lot of these properties have low tax values, and the amount that we’re going to put on there for a nuisance fee may be more than the tax that’s owed.”

“This is going to be a step forward in collecting some of that money that the city and the citizens of Reidsville are putting out to keep the neighborhoods clean.”

Donna Setliff, Reidsville’s community development manager, explained that junk car removal is not included in these fees. The city has a deal with a local towing company which tows the vehicle away.

“Their pay is being able to salvage the vehicle, so we’re not actually having to pay anything at this point, so there are no charges with that,” she said.

If the agreement with the towing company was not in place, the city would incur the charge of removing a junk vehicle and, provided it’s deemed a nuisance, would be able to include it in the fees sent to the county for collection.

Phillips said the Reidsville sends notices to owners to clean up their properties – about 400 properties each year – and the city ends up cleaning up about 25 percent of them.

“It’s usually about $100 to $200 by the time someone has to go out and clean one up,” he said. “And then you get into demolition, which can be $5,000, $6,000, up to $10,000, depending… a lot of our old properties have asbestos which runs the price up.”

McClintock said while planning and zoning departments in municipalities have many other things to do, the county can take this fee collection off their plates. It was a simple function that could be maneuvered within the county tax department’s software. In its first year, about 300 nuisance abatement fees have been added to tax bills.

“It fulfills the interest that the county and city governments have, to get properties’ fees paid and to get blighted properties back on the books with someone paying the taxes or buying them and fixing them up,” McClintock said.



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.