Councilman seeks cleanup reimbursement

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman City Councilman J.D. Sampson is tired of cleaning up properties and rarely seeing the money for that cleanup quickly returned to the city.

He was so fed up last year he asked that action be taken to quickly collect on the lien at 316 Carter St., setting a timeline to take further action after 90 days.

The city tore down the burned-out building at a cost of  $15,000 in 2011.  It’s been more than his proposed 90 days, but Sampson is determined to get that money back.

“Can we go ahead and auction it off?” asked Sampson at a recent meeting.

City attorney Harold Balcom said that action would likely take legal proceedings.

“The next step you have to take to go any further to enforce this is getting a court order,” Balcom said.

Councilman Chris Ahler seconded Sampson’s motion to have Balcom file suit.

Balcom said he could file a simple lawsuit in Chancery Court that would be over “fairly quickly.”

Council first began dealing with the property after it burned in 2010 and residents around it complained both about the burned home and the occupants that came and went at the properties’ apartments. The city voted to tear it down in 2011. The apartments have since been condemned, according to building inspector Maria Nelson.

Treasurer Charles Kerley asked whether he should continue placing liens against property taxes. There have been a few incidents in the last year where the city council forgave a couple of liens, and Kerley said it takes some work to get the liens of the tax rolls, particularly if the delinquent taxes have already been sent to the courts for legal action.

Balcom said it is not complicated to go to the courts and ask to pull the lien out, but it is time consuming for the tax attorney.

He recommended looking at the property owners or potential buyers to see if they can be worked with before placing the liens on the tax role.
Once a lien is placed on the property, however, he recommended not forgiving them.

“I would probably leave them off (the tax rolls) until we take them over to the tax attorney to collect,” Kerley said.