A 120-page supplement to the Wyandotte Daily News and other weekly newspapers last week listed the delinquent real estate property in the county.
It is discouraging to see so many unpaid taxes. Those who pay their taxes in a timely manner must make up the amount of unpaid taxes. To the credit of the Unified Government, there is a more aggressive effort in tax collections with more tax sales.
The publication of delinquent taxes, at times, is a public embarrassment that may encourage those who are past due to pay up.
The expanded publication of the list, which was implemented several years ago, is a good investment. In some former years, the list was published only in the official county newspaper, The Wyandotte Echo. The expanded distribution of the list brings in more revenue. A $15 surcharge is added to each delinquent parcel to cover the cost of publication.
Don’t assume that all of the properties are in the northeast part of the county. Although that area has several delinquencies, there are also past due properties in the Piper community, including ones in upscale neighborhoods. Past due property taxes have proved an embarrassment for certain persons seeking public office and otherc Land Bank. A few of these properties have become urban gardens such as the one near 14th Street. Catholic Social Services, a nonprofit agency, sponsors this effort.
There are examples of urban forestries in the Detroit area. It works like this. Companies that specialize in owning such land buy it at a very reasonable cost, at least enough to cover back taxes. The zoning is changed to agricultural so the taxes are at a minimum. What was abandoned property is now cared for and pays taxes. Wyandotte County officials would do well to check out such opportunities.
The economic downturn a few years ago hit the real estate market very hard. Lax mortgage approval requirements caused massive foreclosures. There were several such foreclosures in Wyandotte County, which caused homes to be abandoned, and property taxes went unpaid.
However, the real estate market, along with the general economy, has improved. There are fewer foreclosures these days. Investors have purchased many better properties, particularly in the mid-county area.
Wyandotte County suffered a loss of about 30,000 persons from 1970 until 2000. That caused a loss of property values. However, that trend has reversed with an estimate of a slight gain in population. Property values also have stabilized. The combination of better economic times and more housing opportunities will do much to expand the real estate property base.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.