Milwaukee City Treasurer Spencer Coggs commended the Milwaukee Common Council today for passing Resolution 150164 that will permit the “fast tracking” of in rem tax foreclosures on vacant, tax delinquent homes. Earlier on May 12th, Coggs submitted his 2016 departmental budget request, which included his proposal to accelerate tax foreclosure on vacant homes. “The accelerated foreclosure on vacant homes will prevent destruction of these homes by malicious vandals,” stated Coggs.
Coggs noted that the alderman from the 4th district recently implied that it was solely the City Treasurer’s Office policy to employ a three-phase tax enforcement program, which includes referral of tax delinquent accounts to a collection law firm prior to tax foreclosure, when in fact the that policy was originally authorized by Common Council Resolution and implemented back in 2003.
“After the Great Recession of 2007-2008, the City saw a dramatic increase in the number of vacant and abandoned homes. I have been observing this trend, and to prevent further deterioration of the housing stock in some of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods, I proposed, as part of my 2016 departmental budget request, that vacant homes eligible for tax foreclosure should not be referred to the City’s collection law firm. Instead, those delinquent tax accounts would be pursued by in rem tax foreclosure by my office. I believe that this is a good first step in preventing further deterioration of the housing stock in Milwaukee’s most depressed areas,” stated Coggs.
Coggs’ 2016 department budget request includes additional funding in the amount of $121,870 to pursue accelerated in rem tax foreclosure on 1,100 eligible tax delinquent vacant properties. If his budget request is approved by the Milwaukee Common Council and Mayor this fall, Coggs explained that his department would not refer 2014 tax delinquent, vacant home accounts to the collection law firm in November 2015. Instead, these accounts would comprise the first tax foreclosures in 2016.
Treasurer Coggs noted that, currently, if an occupied blighted home qualifies for accelerated tax foreclosure, Common Council members can complete and file a legal protocol with the City Attorney that will allow the City to file foreclosure against the property.
Coggs’ office remains very successful at tax enforcement. “We are collecting 98¢ of every City tax dollar levied,” stated Coggs.