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Property tax collections going well in Union City

Property tax collections going well in Union City
Associate Editor
Union City is doing a great job of collecting its property taxes.
In fact, city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr. told the Union City Council Tuesday night that the collection rate is about 99 percent.
But, there are properties for which taxes are owed and the taxes go back for several years.
Five of the parcels in question were recently obtained by Obion County through a tax sale because no one bid on the property.
Glasgow said Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire had written a letter to the city offering two solutions — the city could forgive the property taxes owed, opening up the possibility for the county to sell the land, or the city could purchase the parcels for $1 each and, therefore, accept all responsibility for maintaining the property.
The attorney said it has been his opinion that the city council cannot forgive property taxes owed. He added he recently consulted with the county’s attorney and he agrees, so one of the two options offered by McGuire is not viable.
Glasgow told the council he understands some of the other communities in the county have forgiven their cities’ property taxes, but he thinks it is “clear by law you cannot do that.”
He said the city could have a tax sale and, if no one purchases the property, the city could take possession and sell it for whatever it can get. But, there is a question as to which entity would own the property in the case of the parcels obtained by Obion County through the previous tax sale.
Councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison said two of the five properties in question have buildings on them which would need to be demolished.
Mayor Terry Hailey said the city could buy the properties from the county and sell them, writing off the remainder of the taxes.
Glasgow said he would have to check on whether the city could actually do that.
“If the council wants to be out of the real estate business, it needs to get the property, sell it and get it off the books,” Hailey said.
The council instructed Glasgow to research the options.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by Glasgow, the council:
• Heard that Glasgow wishes to speak with the environmental lawyer once more before making a recommendation to the council regarding the former Reelfoot Packing Co. building.
In a related matter, councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford asked what the city can do about the lagoon behind the former plant. He said the weeds are grown up and there is the possibility that someone will fall in and drown. He asked if the city is liable because it is aware of the problem.
Glasgow said the property owners are the ones with the liability.
• Took no action on a request to lower the speed limit on Highland Avenue after the Union City Police Department reported the average speed of 100 vehicles through that area was 25 mph. Police Chief Joe Garner said when he researched accidents on the street, 18 of the 22 were at intersections, mainly where Highland intersects with Reelfoot Avenue or with Main Street. There are no posted speed zone signs.
Hailey said he likes it that 35 mph is the speed limit on every street which is not posted in the city. He said it doesn’t look like the traffic speed on Highland Avenue is too much out of line.
• Learned there is a public hearing set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to consider the budget, taxes and the hotel/motel tax appropriations.
• Discussed bushes along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive which block the view of traffic.
• Encouraged everyone in Union City to remove their trash cans from the curb after their garbage has been picked up. Harrison also wants landlords to get involved and make their tenants remove their trash cans.
He said “it is a disgrace” and “a sad situation,” adding there are several streets in the city where the trash cans stay out by the curb seven days a week.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at Published in The Messenger 9.21.11