St. Charles Herald-Guide

Parish to put properties up for sale

Michael Luke - June 14, 2006

Pending parish council approval, St. Charles Parish government will put hundreds of properties up for auction. On Monday, June 19, the council will consider an ordinance to allow the parish to execute an auction with Gilmore Auction & Realty Company of adjudicated properties.

"After three years of non-payment of taxes, in some cases probably even longer than that, the parish claims the property," said Public Information Officer Steve Sirmon, adding that properties are a burden to the parish.

"Gilmore is a national firm that does this type of auction all of the time," said Sirmon. Before the auction, Gilmore will do a title search on the hundreds of properties, and once the bidding is completed, the winner will receive the title.

"These properties are being sold as is," said Sirmon.

In the past, the parish would have allowed time for the property to be contested, but a change in the Louisiana law now allows the parish to put the adjudicated parcels up for sale. "Once it is adjudicated to the parish, then it becomes an asset, so we can't just go out and sell it," said Sirmon. "The best way to get rid of the properties is to sell a bunch at one time."

"Some of the properties are homes and some are lots, but all haven't had their taxes paid on them," he said.

According to Sirmon, the properties are a financial burden to the parish. "Once we take them, we have to maintain them, cutting the grass and whatnot," as the government is required to pay for the upkeep of the adjudicated properties.

"Most importantly, the auction gets them back in commerce, and that benefits the community," said Sirmon.

Approximately, 10 percent of the closing costs must be paid at the closing, along with additional service fees. With the as-is claim, the parish also relinquishes any liability for the properties once they are sold.

Sirmon said that the parish doesn't expect to make a profit and that this is not the first time that local government has sold off adjudicated properties, adding Jefferson Parish recently used the same firm to auction properties in their parish.

While not all of the properties are prized or perfect condition, the parish would like get rid of the burden of maintaining the land. “How's the saying go: ‘One man's trash is another man's treasure.' We want to get these properties back into commerce where they can generate some tax revenue. It's good for us and the public to get these properties back into commerce again," said Sirmon.

Parish to put properties up for sale