* * *
County Prosecutor Chip McConville said that normally, cases of unpaid taxes or assessment are reported by the treasurer to the prosecutor and go through normal legal channels of Common Pleas Court. However, he said, about 10 years ago, at a time when counties were finding themselves saddled with more abandoned and delinquent properties, the General Assembly approved the use of boards of revision to expedite actions against vacant or abandoned property and return them to productivity more quickly. The process has not been used locally until now.
McConville said Area Development Foundation Director Jeff Harris, who is also an attorney, has been appointed as special prosecutor for the prosecutor’s office to present foreclosure cases to the Board of Revision, which consists of the county auditor, county treasurer and one county commissioner. If the board determines the property is vacant or abandoned, and delinquent, according to Harris, it can turn the property over to the state or, in certain cases, turn it over to the local land bank. The Land Bank can be awarded the title, free and clear, 28 days after the ruling is issued.
In those cases, however, the county and city have to write off the back taxes and assessments that are owed.
By not having to wait in line with all the other cases competing for time on the common pleas docket, the cases can be considered much more quickly.
In the case of the middle school, $13,557.53 is owed in back taxes and $8,175.53 is owed in assessments, mostly mowing charges from the city of Mount Vernon. McConville said that in normal tax foreclosure cases, about half the time, a property owner will step up and pay the back taxes and assessments before a sale is ordered.
McConville said this case was brought in cooperation with the Knox County Land Bank.
Because of the loss of tax revenue, this option is often reserved for cases where the local government is especially anxious to get rid of an eyesore or a problem property.
Harris said that the Board of Revision and the Property Maintenance Board gives the city two ways to put pressure on the property owners to clean up and maintain property and send the message that “we are sick of this and want it to go away.”
The Board of Revision will meet to consider the middle school case at 2 p.m. March 13 in the conference room at the county commissioner’s office.
The board will be scheduled to meet thereafter on the second Tuesday of each month, but Harris said he does not expect to have cases before the board every month.