Mayor hopes change in city ordinance will get abandoned property back on tax rolls

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mayor Wendy Perrette said on Friday that a proposed ordinance on dealing with adjudicated properties in Bogalusa will be on Tuesday’s council meeting agenda, and she is hopeful it passes.

Adjudicated properties are properties that have been abandoned by their original owner and become properties of the city.

“We’re trying to get property not on our tax roll back on the tax roll,” she said.

Perrette added she wants the public to know the city isn’t going to take anyone’s property, and the ordinance will only put city laws in line with state laws and perhaps make it easier for homeowners to buy adjacent abandoned lots.

Abandoned properties are currently sold through an auction, but according to state law, if a homeowner maintains a property that is adjacent and that’s been abandoned for a year, he or she can make a bid to buy the property without a public auction.

The proposed city ordinance includes the same provision.

“I want people to understand that we’re not out to get your land,” she said. “We don’t collect any taxes from them and there are so many properties. …. it would be nice to have the taxes from it.”

The ordinance was introduced at the first city council meeting in February, and the board approved discussing it at the Tuesday meeting. However, Councilwoman Gloria Kates said she would still like to wait on approving the ordinance until after a public meeting Feb. 23.

“My main thing is, before we voted on it, if the citizens could possibly have some input on it before we vote on it,” she said.

Kates said she wouldn’t say whether she would vote for or against it Tuesday.

“I can’t disclose that right now,” she said.

In addition to citizen input, Kates said she was concerned the new ordinance would somehow conflict with existing procedures on transferring abandoned property to buyers.

“The only other thing is, the ordinance itself should consider the legal provisions for our citizens pertaining to that property tax deed process,” Kates said.

Kates said the city currently uses as an online portal where citizens can bid on abandoned properties in the city. Kates said she didn’t want the new ordinance to conflict in any way with that setup.

“We need provisions for the citizens pertaining to this process that are not found in this ordinance,” she said.

But Councilman Teddy Drummond, the one who introduced the ordinance, said he did so because Archon, the company that operates, asked the city to update its codes on processing adjudicated properties so that Bogalusa’s laws would be in line with state laws and the laws of surrounding cities. Besides Bogalusa, lists properties around the state.

Drummond said that as far as residents are concerned, little should change, legally.

“They still have to go through Archon,” he said.

However, he hopes that by explicitly pointing out a pathway to ownership, homeowners who have abandoned property adjacent to theirs might pick up some extra land.

“This could be a good way of getting rid of blight and getting the property back into commerce,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to live next door to it and it wouldn’t want any our residents to live next to it. If you live next to it, you’re going to be fighting vermin and ne’er-do-wells.”