Can the Collector of Revenue Help St. Louis Tackle Its Vacancy Problem?

By on January 8, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  Among the estimated 25,000 vacant properties in St. Louis, more than half are still privately owned.

Most will sit and continue to deteriorate for five, six, maybe seven years before they’re offered to the public for sale because of unpaid taxes. If no one wants them, the city’s land bank, the Land Reutilization Authority, will take ownership — unwanted properties in distressed neighborhoods that have the added burden of another half-decade of neglect.

As City Hall looks at ways to better manage vacant properties — a top priority for Mayor Lyda Krewson — the St. Louis collector’s office could play an important role. It sits at the center of the process that moves property back into private hands or into the LRA.

While state law allows the St. Louis collector of revenue to take action to collect unpaid property taxes after one year of nonpayment, in practice, it waits for three years of unpaid taxes before starting that tax foreclosure process. With other notice and court requirements, the process can stretch out for another year or more.

The internal policy shows the complicated balance between protecting property rights, addressing vacant nuisances and the needs of an elected official — Collector of Revenue of Gregory F.X. Daly — independent of City Hall and reliant on fee income that accrues for each year of unpaid taxes.

“We have learned in the 50 years that LRA was created that this is the time that is needed for people to clear up issues in the family as far as the property is concerned,” said Deputy Collector Tom Vollmer. “I get it. We just walk this tightrope because you don’t want to take property away from individuals, but yet you have to make quality of life for the rest of the people living there attractive.”

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About Dede Hance

One Comment

  1. Steve

    01/08/2019 at 1:58 PM

    60 years of failed democrat policies creating a moochers paradise of crime, laziness, and violent militant street justice “gimme dat” has created the social war zone of St. Louis City. The solution applied was to do the same to the region and now the region has failed also.

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