ALBANY — After a taxing discussion on delinquent taxes and the blighted properties that often end up on the rolls of unpaid property levies, one Albany City Commission member proposed having the city take a more active role in unloading the often unwanted tracts.
During an update to commissioners during a Tuesday-morning work session, representatives of the Dougherty County Tax Department reported that property tax collections exceed 99 percent annually. But Mayor Bo Dorough suggested that the number of properties that have been habitually delinquent is closer to 6 percent in the city.
Those properties often have dilapidated houses and present an issue for the city, said Dorough, who has made it no secret he would prefer that the city have an elected tax commissioner.
Dougherty is the only county in the state that has its tax department head appointed by the County Commission rather than an elected tax commissioner.
The tax office holds annual sales of properties for which back taxes are owed each Aug. 1, but Dorough suggested that more of an effort should be put into finding buyers willing to buy them.
The tax department puts all such properties up for sale at least once, Kim Bayliss, the department’s delinquent tax coordinator, told commissioners. In instances where a property seems like an unlikely candidate due to the amount of taxes owed or other considerations, it may not be brought up for auction in subsequent years.
In some instances, Dorough said, neglected houses on those properties reach a point where the city has to tear them down, sometimes incurring costs in the thousands of dollars.
“One thing you need to be cognizant of, so many of those properties you deem unsaleable are in depressed neighborhoods,” Dorough said. “To y’all it might be an unsaleable property, but for us it comes to a point” where we have to demolish it.
Ward IV Commissioner Chad Warbington suggested having the city get involved in attempting to find buyers for properties that do not attract interest at county auctions.
“That’s something the city might want to consider coming out of this sale in August,” he said.