BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When property taxes become delinquent or a property decays into blight it can be a problem for neighbors and a headache for municipalities. It's up to the local government to sort out the owner, settle finances, or put the property up for sale if necessary. It's a complicated process that lawmakers want voters to weigh in on with constitutional amendments three and 10.
Constitutional amendment number three would allow local governments the option of using a private firm to collect delinquent taxes and put the property up for sale. Many municipalities already do this, but a recent Supreme Court ruling put that practice in question.
"The Supreme Court looked at one of the New Orleans plans that they have for an agent to take over their delinquent property division and they said no that's unconstitutional," said Robert Scott, the president of the Public Affairs Research (PAR) Council of Louisiana.
PAR does not take a stand on any issue, but releases a guide to constitutional amendments each election cycle.
The Louisiana Municipal Association (LMS) strongly supports amendment three.
"For those properties that are blighted or abandoned it begins the process of returning those properties back into commerce," said Ronnie Harris, LMA Executive Director.
However there are some who oppose it because the third party agents are allowed to collect a fee. That fee is capped at ten percent if the collected property taxes.
Meanwhile, constitutional amendment number 10 focuses on the tax sale of blighted or abandoned properties.
"Right now there's a redemption period of about three years for owners or previous owners to make their appropriate claims on it. All this amendment would do is move this period from three years to 18 months," explained Scott.
The LMA also supports amendment 10, saying it would make a strong stand against blight by getting property back on the tax roll in half the time.
"It's not going after the tax payer who pays, it's going after the property that actually no one wants. They've walked away from it," said Harris.
Those opposed to amendment 10 would argue that anytime the government seizes property, it should move slowly and carefully to ensure no rights are violated.
Read more about all the constitutional amendments facing voters by clicking