Bill Arnold -Public Information Manager/City of Milwaukee
Thanks to legislation adopted by the full Common Council today, the City of Milwaukee will now be able to fast-track the tax foreclosure process on vacant and abandoned homes, a move that will improve the odds against destabilizing blight and vandalism in city neighborhoods.
ALDERMAN ROBERT J. BAUMAN, the primary sponsor of the legislation (FILE #150164 – ATTACHED), said the city needs the authority to seize abandoned homes before they become targets for theft, crime and blight.
The file was adopted by the Council after it was pulled from committee today by Alderman Bauman.
“The policy of the Treasurer’s Office to wait three years to begin In Rem foreclosure proceedings (for unpaid property taxes) against the owners of vacant or abandoned buildings led to homes being stripped of windows and fixtures, plumbing and electrical systems, and devastating vandalism,” Alderman Bauman said.
“When we lose these properties to vandalism or damage caused by water and weather (leaky roofing, open and missing windows, etc.), we are losing our tax base and creating vacant lots that may not be redeveloped for a full generation,” he said.
The legislation also allows any Common Council member (or any city department head or designee) to immediately report to the City Attorney’s Office when a property is registered in the city’s vacant building registry or its residential properties pending foreclosure registry, and that the property is tax-delinquent and eligible for property tax foreclosure. Once it has received a report of this type, the City Attorney’s Office will then begin the process of collecting the property taxes owed.
The resolution triggers a notification process by the City Attorney’s Office to the Treasurer’s Office that will begin property tax foreclosure proceedings (in appropriate cases) as soon as possible (and without the submission of a “Community Improvement In Rem Protocol Form”).