October 3, 2015
Dear Council and Harahan Residents,
Please be informed that four members of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office will be attending the October 15th City Council Meeting to discuss the findings of their report. At their request, we have provided them with our most current budget information and upcoming ordinances that are pertinent to the budget.
The most time sensitive and urgent issue requiring remediation is the collection of delinquent property taxes and the performance of tax sales. In order to be in compliance with state law and remedy the deficiencies noted in the Legislative Auditor report, a tax sale must occur on or before May 1, 2016.
The Legislative Auditor Report found that the City has not complied with Louisiana Revised Statutes pertaining to the collection of delinquent property taxes and tax sales. Our tax collector is of the opinion that she requires a resolution or ordinance in order to comply. I have spoken with the Legislative Auditors, the Attorney General’s Office and LMA. It is my understanding that the consensus opinion is that an ordinance or resolution is not necessary. For our benefit, I have written the Attorney General for an opinion on this matter in order to clarify this issue and others pertaining to this topic. Regardless, the City must comply and there are only two ways to achieve this.
- First, is for our City Tax Collector to perform these duties
- Second, is for the council, by resolution, to allow the mayor to enter into an agreement with an agency having the expertise to perform these duties
Tax sales are labor intensive and require a team of proficient experts in order to be done properly. If done improperly or not done at all, the city opens itself up to litigation and would show blatant disregard for the findings of the Legislative Auditor's mandate that we take corrective action. Failure to comply by any party, i.e, the Council, the Mayor or the Tax Collector, could have legal implications for the responsible party. The City of Harahan does not possess the staff, professional expertise, or the budgetary resources necessary to accomplish this ourselves.
After having had multiple conversations with the above professionals, and in light of the findings of the Legislative Auditor, it is my assessment and opinion that the only viable option is for the city to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Jefferson Parish to perform these services. Sheriff Newell Normand is agreeable to speaking with the Council about this matter. I am working with his office to see if he will be available to come to the October City Council Meeting.
I feel it is my obligation and statutory duty, as Mayor of the City of Harahan, to impress upon everyone the gravity of this situation. I will be happy to speak with you at your convenience to discuss this further.
Mayor Tina Miceli