Police Jury considers online tax sale option

Published 8:31 am Saturday, April 13, 2024

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VIDALIA, La. — With the click of a button, Concordia Parish may soon find its adjudicated properties headed to an online tax sale if the police jury agrees to a proposal presented Monday during its regular meeting.

Property owners who don’t pay taxes stand to lose their properties to a tax sale, where the public is able to bid on them at auction.

On Monday, the Concordia Parish Police Jury listened to a proposal from Wesley Johnson of E&P Consulting that would put the adjudicated properties on a multi-parish website, louisianalandsolutions.com.

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Thirteen jurisdictions are using the website, including Claiborne, Plaquemines, Natchitoches, Beauregard, Bastrop, Franklin, Morehouse, Richland, Sabine, Caldwell, Union, Lincoln, and Ouachita parishes.

Johnson said the Concordia Parish can have a button added to the website at no cost to the Police Jury.

“The auction is conducted physically here like an old-fashioned auction,” she said.

The website lists the adjudicated property, includes a link to the jurisdiction’s tax assessor’s page, details upcoming auctions, and lists properties that are going to a tax sale auction.

Concordia Parish currently has 188 properties that are adjudicated.

Johnson presented the police jury with two documents. One is an ordinance proposal that states the parish wants to sell its adjudicated properties, whether by using an outside firm like E&P Consulting or someone else or doing so independently.

The second was a Memorandum of Understanding that says the parish will use E&P Consulting to showcase adjudicated properties online.

“The ordinance doesn’t name us (E&P Consulting) in there, so if you don’t like us, you can still use it and move on. The MOU is a cooperative agreement that says we’re going to use you, but there is no money that exchanges hands with that.”

The police jury voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the ordinance proposal to deal with adjudicated properties on Monday.

No actions were taken on Monday in regard to the MOU to work with E&P Consulting.

Johnson said her fee comes from those interested in the property.

“They will post $1,000 in good faith to show that they’re seriously interested,” Johnson said. “Then I call the tax collector to get a redemption bill. Its two-thirds of the appraised value based on that property’s last appraisal or the back tax bill. Whichever is the lower figure will be the minimum bid. Send the minimum bid offer to that interested person and they can accept or reject it. If they reject it, they get their $1,000 back. If they say yes, then they sign and then I start doing my real work. We do the title search and find all the individuals that by law are required to get notices. We go back to the first owner. Sometimes these properties go through many tax sales and the name that is listed as the owner is just someone holding a tax certificate. We go back to the first person that lost that property, their children or grandchildren and I’ll send those notices out.”

The parish’s cost would come from publication requirements, where there has to be legal notices posted for tax sales.

“If someone wants to participate in the auction, they have to pay that administration fee in advance,” Johnson said. “It’s a public auction for anyone to come watch but the only players are those who’ve paid their administrative fee. At the end, the winner is the one who pays that and we refund the others. After the auction, there is a scheduled closing date and the tax debtors have until then to redeem their property.

“State statute says we have to wait at least 60 days if the property has been adjudicated for more than five years and at least six months from the date I send the notices to filing that deed,” Johnson said. “Until we file the deed at the courthouse, that tax debtor has that opportunity to go to the tax collector and redeem the property. Our fee of $1,000 is added to that bill so we can give that money back to the person who didn’t get the property.”

If the property is sold at auction, the buyer will also be responsible for a $200 administrative fee and any filing fees at the courthouse, Johnson said.

“Some parishes sell one (property) a year, but having that button on the website doesn’t cost anything. Ouachita is one of our biggest clients and they sold 74 last year and 19 were redeemed. I think our involvement alone causes more redemptions.”

In other matters, Jeff McClure of Point Man International Ministries of the Miss Lou addressed the police jury about moving monuments located on the lawn of the old courthouse to a new location near the riverfront RV park designated to be the entry way of the ministries planned 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. In addition to Vietnam soldiers, the future memorial includes other military, law enforcement, and first responders.

“It was suggested to us several months ago that the monuments at the corner of the old courthouse yard would be good to move there as the entrance to the memorial we would have,” McClure said, adding, “We would move them at our expense.”

It’s unclear who placed the existing monuments, which list service men and women from the area. McClure said the organization wanted to have the markers placed for a Memorial Day program. However, no action was taken on Monday in regard to the monuments because police jurors wanted to look for more information on who put them there.

“The Town of Vidalia from its hydroelectric moneys agreed to give $40,000 to our wall but we still have a big chunk to pay,” McClure said. “That’s ongoing fundraising that we’re doing but this something that we want to do and it would show people that we’re serious about setting this up.”