Businesses tighten belts to survive recession | ParkRecord.com

Businesses tighten belts to survive recession

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The economic recession could be driving up court filings and increasing mortgage foreclosures in Park City.

Foreclosures statewide last summer and fall increased 111 percent, according to state court statistics. The largest increases in foreclosures occurred in American Fork, Provo, West Jordan, St. George, Heber and Park City.

"If you go back over the last 15-20 years, whenever there’s a downturn you generally see an increase in civil filings" said Daniel Becker, a state courts administrator.

There were 17 filings related to property liens and foreclosures in 3rd District Court at Silver Summit in 2007. In December, 40 related court filings had already occurred in Summit County in 2008, according to the statistics.

Meanwhile, businesses in Park City are also facing belt-tightening.

"We’re up there every couple of weeks," process server Bob Reitz said. "We did a very high-end execution up in Park City not long ago, when one of the clothing stores had some problems."

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The Main Street clothier owed its creditors more than $100,000, Reitz said.

"We went in and sold boots and shoes and many, many clothing articles We were taking out coats that were a few thousand dollars," Reitz said about the operation last fall. "They actually also had a private sale and sold stuff, rather than us going in and selling it."

Many people are struggling to pay off medical bills and credit-card debt, he said.

"Can you afford to pay the hospital when you go, realizing what they charge?" Reitz asked. "If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover it, who pays it?"

He often serves lawsuits to defendants named in debt-collection cases filed by banks that issue credit cards.

"Everybody is owed money," Reitz said. "The same person may have three or four credit cards from the same bank, so we’ll have, sometimes, two or three court orders for one person at the same time."

The court statistics indicate that the number of contract disputes, debt collections and property-forfeiture filings are also up.

"Your check-cashing places are going crazy these days because nobody wants to pay them back," Reitz said.

But he hasn’t seen confrontations escalate between defendants and process servers since the economy began to slide, Reitz said.

"Nobody invites us to dinner In our profession, nobody ever wants to see us," Reitz said. "If you’re a man, you don’t want your wife knowing you’re having financial problems or being sued. We never see the good side of it."

He sometimes has less work when the economy is in a slump.

"If it gets too bad, it actually slows down. Why throw a filing fee into the toilet?" Reitz said. "If they don’t have money, why sue somebody? You’re wasting your time."

Utah’s Peace Officers Standards and Training must certify deputy constables in the state, who carry firearms after receiving the same training as jailers or bailiffs.

Associated Press contributed to this report.