UG Land Bank tries different tactics to expedite transfer of tax delinquent property

The Unified Government Land Bank board on Thursday night approved a couple of items using new procedures, according to UG officials.

Chris Slaughter, UG Land Bank manager, described the new process at Monday night’s UG standing committee meeting.

He said a tax foreclosure transfer was used on a property at 1038 Walker Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. The property had been delinquent since 2009 and the house has been razed. The property owes a total $11,200, from back taxes and expenses from the work done there.

When it was placed in the tax sale in May of 2013, no one bid on it, he said.

To expedite its transfer, the UG transferred the property to the Land Bank, he said. Rising Star Baptist Church, next to the property site, wants the land for a parking lot and community events, according to UG documents. The church had maintained and mowed the property for the past two years, according to documents.

A UG legal staff member, Wendy Green, said at the Monday meeting she believed the property could be transferred because there was a valid tax foreclosure judgment on the property. She said state statutes indicated that if a property goes through a tax sale and did not sell, at any time afterward the county could transfer the property to a third party, or transfer it in any way, as long as people were provided notice. The tax foreclosure judgment was valid for five years. Service was not required again because it was already done during the tax foreclosure judgment process, she said.

She said a notice was filed with the court for a hearing, and no one opposed it at the hearing. Then an order was signed by a judge transferring the property to the Unified Government, so it could be transferred to the Land Bank.

“I don’t think this has been done by the county before, but I think it could be a useful tool in transferring properties out that had already been through a sale but nobody purchased,” Green said.

She said another property transfer is coming up, set for a hearing in October, with the same process, and the UG may be able to transfer additional properties this way.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan at the standing committee meeting said in previous years, the UG had a policy similar to “catch and release,” where the property was put in the tax sale, no one bid on it, and it was just left there. This new procedure allows the UG to take action faster, according to McKiernan.

Slaughter said it is correct that this is not going to be a routine action by the UG. The staff will need to look at the properties to see if it is worth doing by the UG, he said. There may be some properties that the UG doesn’t want to touch until they can be held and then demolished, he said.

Another new procedure for the Land Bank this week was a contract sale, Slaughter said.

The property at 1101 S. 5th St., the old Hitching Post building, had been through tax sales in 2014, 2015 and 2016, with no bids at the tax sale. The taxes owed on the building were $687,167.55, he said.

The K&W Land Co. wants to purchase the property, according to UG documents.

Slaughter said a contract with the Land Bank calls for a purchase price of $20,000, the property must be demolished within one year of transfer or there is a $200,000 penalty, and future development is planned. He said the cost of the demolition could be more than $600,000.

Bill Wilhite of Prime Investments and K&W Land Co. said at the meeting that the company owns a lot of land in the area, and that this building on South 5th was being torn apart by vagrants, with doors open, and was hazardous and dangerous.

“Our intent would be to develop and put a building on it, similar to the type we built in that area, industrial,” he said. He said he expected the cost of the project to be more than $600,000.

Commissioners attending the meeting thanked him for doing the work.

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