Lafayette Leaders Help Redevelopers With Overdue Tax Bills

LAFAYETTE, LA (AP) — The Lafayette City-Parish Council has voted to make it easier to redevelop abandoned houses, messy lots and other blighted property with long overdue tax bills.

         The Advocate’s Richard Burgess reports the measure allows city-parish government to forgive back taxes and put the property out to public bid or give it to a nonprofit group to redevelop.

         The process applies to so-called adjudicated properties, which often sit for years in a state of legal limbo because the taxes have been neglected so long that the bill has climbed higher than the value of the property and a tax sale attracts no interest.

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         The new rules approved Tuesday lay out an extensive process for attempting to notify the original owners before selling or donating property, and anyone who wants to acquire the property must provide detailed plans for redevelopment.

         "You don't just get it. You have to identify in advance what your intentions are," said Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who proposed the measure.

         There are more than 1,000 adjudicated properties in Lafayette Parish, most of those in the city of Lafayette, according to figures from Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux.

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         Many of those would be considered blighted or abandoned property.

         But Boudreaux said some properties considered adjudicated might be owned by people who don't know they owe back taxes — family members who either inherited property without knowing it or heirs who moved into the home of a deceased relative and have never received a tax bill because the paperwork has been mailed year after year to a wrong address or post office box.

         "No one knocks on the door and asks who you are and what are you doing here," Boudreaux said.

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