Fischer proposes buying up West End tax liens

, @phillipmbailey 4:10 p.m. EST February 23, 2016


A vine moves up the chipped paint walls at 649 28th Street where the residence has been marked and set for emergency demolition.(Photo: Alton Strupp/The Courier-Journal)

At the end of every April, OneWest interim director Jenny Recktenwald says, out-of-town companies hunt for western Louisville’s most vulnerable residents with overdue tax bills.

When those third parties buy a small lien, it often balloons into a hefty cost for the homeowner that can accrue through fees and other past due penalties levied by those same outside companies often resulting in home foreclosures.

“There are people who are thousands and thousands of dollars in debt on what may have been a pretty modest tax bill,” Recktenwald said. “This has been a predatory practice that’s been going on for a long time that continues to grow.”

That’s why Recktenwald said it’s important for Metro Council to approve a key part of Mayor Greg Fischer’s $10 million surplus plan that would give OneWest — a consortium dedicated to creating economic development in the area’s nine neighborhoods — around $250,000 that the group will match in private donations.

OneWest’s plan is to purchase those tax liens and other unoccupied properties with the intent to revitalize them for uses such as residential, office, retail and public space, according to a proposal submitted to council members last week. In the case of owner-occupied properties, Recktenwald said she anticipates OneWest would work with those homeowners to help them get back on their feet financially.

The tax liens are usually bought up in June before the city’s new budget is approved.