Committee to set plan for tax properties
Katie Zerr –
Telling the Mobridge City Council that nuisance properties are everyone’s problem and not just the city’s, Walworth County State’s Attorney Jamie Hare requested permission to form a joint committee to resolve the issue.
Hare, who addressed the council Monday, March 4, said he thought establishing a relationship between the county and the city will help to avoid the problem of properties returned to the county for unpaid taxes. He said a number of properties of this type currently are in the last stages of eviction on the county level. Two of those properties are in Mobridge and have squatters living in them.
“I would like us to get together and form a plan to avoid these properties becoming a problem,” he said. “Once we treat this as both a county and a city problem, it will help resolve some of these issues.”
Hare said the committee could determine if the properties were livable or if they needed to be demolished. He suggested that a joint effort in the demolition would make more sense than either entity paying $5,000 or $6,000 to remove unlivable homes.
“If it is a restorable property, we want to have a plan in place so they don’t sit around unoccupied for a year or two,” he said.
Ward III Councilman Randy Carlson asked who would determine if the property can be rehabilitated. It was agreed that the committee would make that determination.
Councilman Gene Cox, who has been involved in ensuring abandoned properties in the city don’t get sold on the Internet after a county tax sale, said the two boards should work together to avoid situations that have caused more problems in the recent past.
“We are trying to get ahead of this before these properties are sold to an out-of-state buyer who is looking for a fishing haven and then finds out it is a dive and lets it go again,” he explained.
Hare explained that some counties work with economic development groups to help with the transfer of properties from the county to the city if the properties are deemed as having value. It was reported that the Mobridge economic development group would work with the boards in this effort if all “the ducks are in a row.”
The council agreed that both the county and the city have to determine what each is willing to contribute to the delinquent property problem before a plan can be formulated.
The council agreed to cooperate with the county and participate on the committee.
“There is a lot of work to do on this problem,” said Cox. “It won’t happen in one day, one week or one year.”
Hare told the council he would be meeting with the Walworth County Commission on Tuesday (March 5) to find out what the county is willing to contribute to planning. He said the commission realizes that this is everyone’s problem and he would ask they consider three members to be a part of the committee.
City Attorney Rick Cain asked for an emergency appointment of the pool planning committee in order to ensure the group is covered by the city’s insurance.
The group is holding a question and answer session at Scherr-Howe Event Center on Saturday, March 9. There will also be a fundraising bake sale.
Cain asked the council to approve the committee to cover any insurance issues.
Committee members are Councilwomen Rose Henderson and Amy Cerney, Councilman Tom O’Connell, Mary Fried, Val Ford, Heather Stoick, Heather Overland, and Jackie Keller.
– Katie Zerr –