Delinquent property taxes major problem in N.O.

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 19 at 6:22 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes. One of them isn't quite true in New Orleans.

Case in point, we found a run-down double in the 1900 block of Fern Street in the Carrollton neighborhood where property taxes have apparently not been paid for 24 years.

Kurt Buchert who recently bought the rental property next door says it's an outrage.

"Researching online we realized they hadn't paid property taxes since 1989, when I was in sixth grade," Buchert said. "It just really aggravates us. We buy properties and try to fix them up and we pay a lot of taxes to the city and then somebody is renting out a house next to us, not paying taxes."

We checked the Orleans Parish assessor's website and found the tax bill on the property is now close to $46,000 and mounting year over year.

Assessor Erroll Williams says, unfortunately, this is just one of the many tax delinquent properties across the city.

"If you could get a hold of the accounts receivable file, you'll probably find many properties out there that fit that character," Williams said.

Williams, who is also a former city tax collector, said finding out who actually owns the building is more than half the battle and sometimes that costs more than the property is worth.

"The ultimate remedy is to sell the property at tax sale," Williams said. "Somebody buys the tax bill. Three years later they go to court, they get a judgment of possession and it becomes your property."

Buchert wants to know why the property next door to his rental has not gone to auction.

"We emailed Councilwoman Guidry and then she forwarded it to city finance," Buchert said.

"They responded to us and told us what happened, according to the records, but they didn't act like there was a problem and they didn't act like they were going to fix anything."

"It bothers me in this respect, there are people who want to buy it," said Williams. "They don't have the opportunity or the vehicle to be able to buy it and put it back into commerce."

Property tax accounts for one-third of the city of New Orleans operating budget.

 

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