Aldermen approve funding request

Published 8:47 am Friday, September 12, 2014

The Town of Franklinton’s Board of Aldermen Tuesday night approved a resolution to request Community Development Block Grant funding through Homeland Security.

“The funds were applied for after Hurricane Isaac,” Franklinton Mayor Wayne Fleming said. “We’re just taking a look at stuff.”

Fleming declined to say how much funding the town would receive from the grant or what repairs around the town are necessary.

“It all hinges on how much we get,” Fleming said.

In other business, aldermen approved a five-year option on an airport lease for Fred Lawshe for $150 per month. The parcel measures 54 feet by 54 feet.

“Fred Lawshe is going to build a hangar for his airplane,” Fleming said. “We’re trying to promote people coming in and building a hangar. It brings in a little revenue.”

Lawshe will have the fourth hangar at the airport.

“We do intend to try and lease more hangars,” Fleming said. “Usually a hangar costs around $15,000 to $20,000.”

Aldermen also approved a resolution supporting Constitutional Amendments 3 and 10 on the Nov. 4 ballot. Both amendments center on the battle against blight in the state’s villages, towns and cities. Franklinton is a member of the Louisiana Municipal Association, which supports the amendments.

According to the Public Affairs Research Council website, Constitutional Amendment 3 is about sales of property with delinquent taxes. If approved, the amendment would give municipalities, parishes and sheriff offices the option to use an authorized agent to assist in the collection of delinquent property taxes and the sale of taxes and adjudicated property. The amendment would determine that parishes and towns have the option to start or continuing those outside services. Entering into an agreement with a third party does not relieve the political subdivision from any obligations or due process in dealing with property owners.

The Public Affairs Research Council website says that currently local governments have a responsibility to collect taxes from property owners and to transfer ownership of properties long delinquent on taxes. Property owner death or abandonment, particularly for blighted homes, are among the typical causes for this situation.

A vote for the amendment would allow local government the option to use a private firm to assist in the collection in delinquent property taxes and the process of selling property whose owners are tax delinquent.

A vote against the amendment would keep the current law, which prohibits some forms of outsourced tax collection fees according to recent court rulings.

Amendment 10 concerns the tax sale of vacant, blighted or abandoned property.

According to the Public Affairs Research Council, current properties for which property taxes are not paid in a given year are offered at a tax sale the following year by the local government. If the tax certificate is purchased by an investor, this purchaser must wait three years from the recordation date of the sale to obtain clear title to the property and put it back into commerce. In the meantime, the investor is responsible for maintaining the property as required by local ordinances and absorbing all the costs, including payment of property taxes.

The amendment would shorten the redemption period for property that has been declared vacant, blighted or abandoned from three years after the sale’s recordation date to 18 months. The amendment would not shorten the redemption period for non-blighted owner-occupied homes.

According to the website, voting for the amendment would require each parish to shorten the redemption period for vacant, blighted or abandoned property sold at a tax sale to 18 months after the sale has been recorded.

The website says voting against the amendment would leave the redemption period at its current three-year period from the date recorded, except in Orleans Parish, which already has an 18-month redemption period.

Aldermen also approved changing the Oct. 14 regular meeting to Oct. 21 because of the Washington Parish Free Fair.