Council seeks to collect $116K+

Published 12:22 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

Work was done on abated properties

The Andalusia City Council took no action Tuesday on a proposed resolution that would pass on more than $116,000 in costs incurred by the city in cleaning up abated property, pending clarification needed from the revenue commissioner’s office.

The council took abatement action on the four properties in question in 2016, declaring they included structures or items in disrepair that caused a public nuisance. If a property owner does not comply with the legal directive to correct issues within a specified timeline, the city may choose to do so and pass the costs along to the property owner.

As a result, the council is now considering a resolution that would attach the charges for those property improvements to the owner’s or owners’ property taxes. This resolution, as written, addresses:


  • 201 S. Three Notch St., owned by Tisdale Family Properties, and also known as the former opera house.

Cost of repairs: $17,107.87

Plus 11.11 percent (for county handling expenses): $1,900.68.

Total: $19,008.55


  • 223 South Cotton, owned by John Tisdale, the depot

Cost of clean up: $15,468.97

Cost of two certified letters: $15.34

Plus 11.11 percent (for county handling expenses): $1,720.31

Total: $17,204.62


  • Lot adjacent to 233 South Cotton St., owned by John W. Tisdale Jr. and Jennifer H. Tisdale

Cost of clean up: $17,970.12

Cost of two certified letters: $15.34

Plus 11.11 percent (for county handling expenses): $1,998.18

Total: $19,938.64


  • 254 Historic Central St.

Cost of clean up: $65,765.22

Cost of two certified letters: $15.34

Plus 11.11 percent (for county handling expenses): $7,308.78

Total: $73,088.78


Tisdale and his attorney, Adam Jones of Dothan, attended the council’s workshop session. Jones said the two were present because they were seeking clarity, and specifically were questioning a surcharge for the county’s handling of the collections.

Building inspector Richard Moore said the county takes 10 percent off the top of charges presented for inclusion in taxes, and that the city has been encouraged to take that into account when passing along the costs of abatement.

Jones said after speaking to city attorney Mark Christensen, he spoke with Revenue Commissioner Chuck Patterson.

“He said he didn’t know anything about it, and that it was an inconvenience to them.”

Tisdale also said that he had spoken with Patterson, who told Tisdale he doesn’t like collecting the charges. Tisdale also said that Patterson told him the portion being added by the city for the county’s fees was a “bogus charge.”

The council took no action on the proposed resolution.

“What I would say is there are obviously two stories here,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “What the 11.11 percent is is an add-on so that we get reimbursed the full cost we incurred. If (the revenue commissioner) is not going to (take a percentage), and he’s willing to put that in writing, we won’t assess it. We’re not trying to collect something here that is not due us under the law.”

On Wednesday morning, Patterson, who was not at the council meeting, explained that if the revenue commission office collects costs associated with an abatement, the county commission receives 10 percent of the abatement or weed lien money for their efforts in collection. Most abatements by the city council are for the removal of unsightly weeds.

“The paperwork for this process can be very cumbersome if the property tax, abatements, and weed liens are not satisfied,” Patterson said in a statement. “I have spoken to elected officials and city management about being careful not to get the cost higher than the value of the property when issuing property abatements and liens.”

Patterson said history has shown that if the abatement expenses exceed the value of the property, the property owner will not pay the property tax or the expenses charged through the municipalities. The property then moves to the annual tax sale, where it usually will not sell if the expenses are greater than the property value, Patterson said.

“At that point, the State of Alabama is the new owner of the property and no ad valorem taxes are paid by the State of Alabama.”