Bossier City looks to online auctions for sales of blighted properties

Bossier City is looking to return abandoned, blighted buildings back into productive use by partnering with a company that will make it easier to sell adjudicated properties.

The Bossier City Council on Tuesday will vote on an ordinance that would allow the city to contract with CivicSource, a New Orleans-based company that will establish and administrate online auctions and sales of the city’s adjudicated properties.

These are properties that have been adjudicated to the city due to non-payment of ad valorem property taxes. According to the draft ordinance, many of these properties remain abandoned and contribute to blight in the area.

“CivicSource is in the business of returning adjudicated properties back into commerce,” Ronnie Harris, director of business development for CivicSource, told the city council at a meeting in January. “We do that in a process where we get information from your assessor, we look at the information to ensure the property is marketable and insurable, and we market it by posting signs, placing it on our website and having an informational session here in your city with potential investors.”

The city says it does not have resources to market and fulfill legal requirements for the sale of these properties, or to offer any warranty of title or title insurance to purchasers of adjudicated properties.

These are services CivicSource can provide, Harris said.

“At the end of the process, it goes to an auction and the successful bidder will obtain title insurance for the properties that have been sold,” Harris said. “CivicSource has married the governmental process with information technology and title insurance, in order to wrap it all up and provide a service for our government clients.”

The city’s goal in entering this process is “to encourage the redemption of these properties, to bring these properties back into commerce and productive use, to return these properties back to the active tax rolls, to stimulate economic development and to increase property tax and other tax revenue,” according to the ordinance.

The Bossier Parish Police Jury entered into a contract with CivicSource in 2015 and continues to use its services today because it has proven to be good for the parish, said Parish Administrator Bill Altimus.

“This partnership is helpful to the parish in that it gives our adjudicated property that is eligible to be sold to a company that does all the necessary legal legwork, which is substantial,” Altimus said. “It’s a turnkey process, and in the end allows the purchaser to obtain good and legal title to that property according to current Louisiana law. This property is now back on the tax rolls and is being maintained by the new purchaser.”

The city believes that this process “will increase the redemptions of adjudicated property and increase the number (of) sales of adjudicated property in the City of Bossier City, thus fostering the goals of returning these properties to commerce and productive use and will provide the buyers of these properties a chance to purchase property with title insurance,” the ordinance states.

The city council will meet 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Bossier City Municipal Complex council chambers, 620 Benton Road.

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