Legislature fails to deal with 293 parcels on delinquent tax roll

Jeremy Styron-News-Herald

After a court removed 293 Tellico Village properties in delinquent tax status from public auction to prevent Loudon County from paying Property Owners Association assessments on the depressed lots, the properties will likely stay in their current status since a piece of legislation attempting to address the dilemma appears defunct.

Clerk and Master Fred Chaney said the status on the lots is the same as it was after the sale, which took place in October.

If the court had not made the decision, the county would have been on the hook for about $29,300 in Tellico Village Property Owners assessment fees that help cover operational expenses associated with managing the planned community.

Pending a legal resolution, the properties will remain in dispute until the next scheduled sale in October 2014, Chaney said.

"Unless there is another court order that goes down, that's the only way that would keep them out of the sale," he said.

Tellico Village Property Owners Association attorney Kevin Stevens said he thought legislation in Nashville attempting to address the problem was "dead on arrival."

"There were various bills that were proposed in both the House and the Senate," Stevens said. "... The general purpose was to exempt county governments from paying property owners association assessments for some period of time after they attained property through a delinquent tax sale."

The legislation, Senate Bill 990, was sponsored by Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.

"This bill specifies that no private contractual development covenants, development fees, or assessments may accrue against a tax entity owning such property as long as the entity follows such present law requirements," according to the bill summary.

Senate Bill 990 was initially filed in January but was taken off the business and utilities subcommittee calendar last month.

"We tried to monitor the situation just to make sure TVPOA's interests were protected, and ultimately it appears those folks in Nashville couldn't come to an agreement on language that was acceptable to everybody," Stevens said, adding that the dispute stemmed from a 2010 court decision that determined counties acquiring property through a delinquent tax sale were required to pay POA assessment fees.

"That kind of triggered some bigger issues, and with the downturn in the economy there's a number of neighborhoods — Tellico Village being one of them — that have some major big block lot owners that are delinquent on both taxes and assessments, so that's what triggered the problem or the concern," Stevens said.

TVPOA General Manager Winston Blazer said in an email correspondence that he thought the partities involved could find some "middle ground" in addressing the problem, noting a "direct result" of the issue was the real estate downtown.

Blazer said a delay in resolving the issue would not affect Tellico Village operations going forward.
"No effect on us," he wrote. "We already planned and budgeted for this, therefore, there is no effect on current operations. Of course, we would love to have these in the hands of property owners who would be paying the assessments."