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City taking new strategy to fight blight

The City of Bogalusa is working to erase blight by the acquisition of adjudicated properties in the city limits.

The city recently identified 64 adjudicated properties, which will soon be put up for auction. The city listed 39 properties adjudicated to the city between 2005-2008. Those 39 properties will be the first pieces of adjudicated property to be sold. The city placed the properties on the Civic Source website, www.civicsource.com.

Adjudicated property is property that has been placed in the hands of a local government for failure to pay taxes. After time, the local government can sell that property to get it back into commerce.

“We’re selling property adjudicated to the city only,” Bogalusa Director of Personnel Sandy Bloom said. ”We’re selling those properties that have been adjudicated for five years, or more. The properties are in all sections of town. They’re pretty much spread out all over town, including Sullivan Drive, Main Street and Mississippi Avenue.”

Bloom said most of the adjudicated properties are homes or vacant lots.

“In this process, it’s a requirement that the last owner of record be notified by certified mail,” Bloom said. “(Owners) can pay the taxes on it and any expenses the city has incurred.”

Bogalusa Mayor Charles Mizell said auctioning off adjudicated properties has been a long time coming.

“These properties are the tip of the iceberg,” Mizell said. “We will continue to put properties up for sale. We are currently working with the other taxing authorities in the parish to be able to sell properties within the city limits that are also adjudicated to the parish.”

Bogalusa Public Works Director James Hall said the city needs owners who will maintain their property.

“These adjudicated properties contribute to the blight in our city,” Hall said. “It will be a big help getting them in the hands of a property owner who will not only pay the taxes but also keep up the property.”

Those who purchase adjudicated properties from the city will immediately take over ownership, including title insurance.

“This is such an improvement over having to sell them piece by piece,” City Administrator Jerry Bailey said. “The expense of the research, notification and title insurance is the responsibility of the successful bidder.”