Money Grab II

This may be a little longer than most stories I do but it's very important to every tax payer in Loudon County. This is about the Tellico Village Property Owners Association and their attempt to shake down all property owners in the county. There's been a lot of one sided and wrong information out there and it's time to set the record straight. Just to tease you enough to read the whole story, the ultimate outcome of this matter has the potential to gravely impact every property owner in the county in the way of hefty tax increases. Here's the background.

If a property owner doesn't pay their property taxes over a three year period, those taxes become delinquent and the property may be sold by the county for back taxes. Normally, at a prescribed time, these properties would be sold by the county at public auction to the highest bidder. If a property is put to auction and no one buys it, then it becomes property owned by Loudon County.

Currently in Tellico Village there are hundreds of these delinquent properties. Based on a recent court case, if Loudon County were to auction these properties and no one bought them and they became owned by Loudon County, the county would be responsible for the monthly Property Owners Association (POA) fees of $107.00 per month, on each of these lots. That would be 406 lots x $107.00 per lot = $43,442.00 per month x 12 months = $521,130.00 per year the county would have to pay to the Tellico Village POA. These lots are delinquent on taxes from 2010 and 2011. There are already 368 more of these lots that have not had the taxes paid on them from 2012 and 2013. These will become delinquent next year and the year after and there will be more and more year after year. Property sales in the village have been hurt by the continually rising cost of the POA fees.

The county made the decision about a month ago that it would not be in the best interest of the county to put these lots in the tax sale that was held this past Monday. Contrary to what was reported in the local paper, the county did not go to court to remove those properties from the sale. That was not necessary, And also contrary to the local report the county mayor did not over step his bounds in removing the lots from the sale. There is no law that requires those lots to be put in the sale. That's at the descration of the county.

What did happen was, when the POA heard the county had removed the lots from the sale, they filed a motion with the Chancery Court to have the lots put back in the sale. Of course the county then had to respond to the motion, costing the tax payers legal fees, and the court sided with the county and agreed that the lots did not have to be in the sale. Upon losing in court, the POA waited till one business day before the tax sale and filed another motion with the same court this time claiming the county mayor had no authority to remove the lots from the sale. Of course the county had to respond again costing the tax payers more in legal fees. The motion was set to be heard on Monday morning one hour prior to the start of the tax sale.

Fortunately, the judge again sided with the county and allowed the sale to go on without the village lots. But in this hearing the judge went further in pointing out that these suits were nothing more than the POA trying to force the county into paying the POA fees and he was exactly right.

Let me make it very clear, this is not a problem caused by Tellico Village residents. This is a problem caused by the POA director and board which if they got their way would hurt every property owner including village residents.

In reality, the POA could, with a signature, waive the POA fees if the county ended up with the properties and the county could give the properties back to the POA and they could then try to sell them. Unfortunately, Mr. Winston Blazer, Tellico Village general manager and the POA board have decided to use the situation, that some might call extortion, to squeeze county tax payers for millions of dollars to prop up the POA.

While POA board members have claimed in the media that they have been working with the county to reach a settlement that would be beneficial to everybody, the truth of the matter is far different. The POA did offered to settle with the county if the county would agree to pay off the construction debt on the new Tellico Village Library to the tune of 1.4 million dollars and make an unspecified contribution to the POA marketing department. And on top of that, they asked that what ever settlement was reached, the terms would be kept confidential. What's that tell you about the POA motives.

If the county were ever forced to take possession of these properties and pay the fees, it would require a massive property tax increase. It's sadly unfortunate that we have an organization that represents such a large segment or our community that would try to use the courts and legal maneuvering to ultimately hurt the very people they are suppose to be serving.

I'm only one no vote on a ten member commission but I can't imagine there would ever be a majority of commissioners that would vote to bow down to such strong arm tactics that would be so devastating to all the tax payers of Loudon County.