Happening now: East Baton Rouge properties seized for failure to pay taxes up for online auction

The Advocate


May 3, 2016; 5:45 p.m.

More East Baton Rouge Parish properties are headed to the online auction block Wednesday.

The city-parish is trying to sell 16 plots seized when owners didn’t pay their taxes. Prospective buyers may bid on the properties at CivicSource.com between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Opening bids range from about $3,500 to $6,500 and cover the cost of the title, closing cost and title insurance.

The city-parish has made several recent changes to its system of selling off tax adjudicated property. In February, it partnered with New Orleans-based CivicSource so potential buyers could scout land online. And there are many properties for sale — just under 2,000 heading into Wednesday’s auctions.

Auctions are held the first Wednesday of each month.

By law, the government can hold an auction once a prospective buyer puts a down a deposit — typically $750 — to buy a site. The city-parish then advertises the sale, puts it on the block and sells it to the highest bidder. The person who pays the deposit gets the money back if he doesn’t win the auction.

There are other ways to buy land from the government. At its last meeting, the Metro Council approved an ordinance beginning a Mow to Own program. In that program, neighbors who tend blighted property adjacent to their own for one year can strike a deal with the Metro Council to buy the land without sending it to auction.

So far, no one has purchased land under the new program, though four or five have expressed interest in taking advantage of it, said special assistant parish attorney William Aaron.

Aaron and Tara Wicker, the councilwoman who sponsored the ordinance, have said the city has two major reasons for wanting to make it easier to sell adjudicated land.

First, it could collect potentially millions of dollars in revenue by selling off the land it isn’t using. Additionally, many of the properties are blighted, and new owners could replace eyesores with economic drivers.