D'Iberville expects to recoup some clean-up money

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi residents recently got their first look at their property tax bills. Some people who did not comply with warnings to clean up their property are now realizing that may not have been such a good idea.

D'Iberville, like many cities, spends thousands of dollars each year dealing with derelict properties. Usually recouping that money takes a long time, but the bill is coming due a lot sooner these days.

"It would be cheaper for the owner to clean than their property. Rather than for the city to have to come in and put out for bid, have someone clean and then tack on an administration fee to that, then assess it to their taxes," code officer Michael York said.

Code officials say this past week, the city paid to have seven properties boarded, cleaned up, or both. Five more are slated for next week, costing the city about $7,000. Code officials say the chance of recouping that money sooner than later from the owners has increased dramatically.

"In the past, the way the assessment was done, only after the property was sold could the city hope to recover the funds in the form of an assessment," said building officer Hank Rogers. "Now they're having to pay that assessment before they pay their regular property taxes on a yearly basis. So we'll start seeing those funds. In fact, starting here very shortly, we'll start seeing those funds coming back into the city."

Rogers say it will be nice to get that money back in the city coffers. What is even nicer is when property owners are told there is a problem, and take care of it quickly.

"So with practice and staying in front of them and reminding them on a regular basis, they are beginning to recognize this is not a one time thing." said Rogers. "We are going to expect it month after month and year after year. They are starting to come around."

D'Iberville code officials say as recovery moves forward, they are having to focus more on abandoned buildings and less on high grass and debris.