City officials continue to negotiate with representatives of an Erie Avenue car wash that owes about $48,000 in back taxes and unpaid water bills, but the business may be standing only one step away from foreclosure.
Dr. Huggs Car Wash has had several repayment agreements with the city of North Tonawanda for county, city and school taxes owed, said Jeffrey N. Mis, administrative assistant to Mayor Lawrence V. Soos.
The company still provides regular car wash service for some city vehicles, as it has for a number of years, and city officials are conducting ongoing negotiations to establish a new service agreement with the company.
Any monies paid for car washes would end up coming right back into the city's coffers.
But if the company fails to keep up on its repayment schedule and its current tax obligations, the city would look to take the property through foreclosure, Mis said.
"This is kind of a last chance agreement," he said. "That's the bottom line."
The city administration is looking for a new agreement that would make "a substantial dent" into the back taxes but also provide a fair payment schedule, Mis said.
The current owners, represented by former owner Paul D. Christian, have kept up on the current payment schedule, he added.
Daniel E. Brick, Christian's attorney, said his client once owed about $60,000, and the amount owed has "come way down."
The city has asked Christian to provide some hard numbers on what the city's costs would be per car wash. Brick estimated the company provides 1,100 to 1,300 washes for city cars annually.
"It's in everybody's better interest to resolve these issues and get to a consensus," he said.
City Attorney Shawn P. Nickerson said both the mayor and the Common Council are still looking to see whether Christian is behind in payments or not.
City officials were reluctant to renew the service agreement for 2007, Nickerson said, noting he would not want to see any city business go under.
"If he's not living up to his obligations, something's got to give, I guess," he said.