Public hearing on mismanagement of city property on board's agenda
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors this morning will conduct a public hearing to consider whether a piece of property owned by the city of Porterville should not have been sold by the county tax collector.
The city bought the property in April of 2005 from Jackie Cotton. In July of the same year, the city wrote to the county assessor, requesting that the property be made tax exempt.
A staff report in Tuesday’s board agenda states that due to a “backlog in the assessor’s mapping unit, the necessary remapping for the change in ownership was delayed” and never reported by the assessor to the county tax collector. In turn, the tax collector continued to send tax bills to Cotton, and the taxes on the property were never paid. In researching the parcels subject to tax sale in 2012, the tax collector was informed that the land had been sold to the city in 2005.
The report states that the tax collector didn’t connect the lack of payment of taxes on the property to its purchase by a tax-exempt entity but did notify the city, as a party of interest, that the property would be sold for unpaid taxes at an auction in March. The report states the city never contacted the tax collector about it.
As a result, the county sold the parcel at that March auction to Porterville City Council member Greg Shelton, who requested the deed be issued with the purchaser listed as Donald Beardsley.
After the hearing, supervisors will consider taking one of four actions to remedy the issue.
They will either determine that the property was appropriately sold and that the tax deed should not be rescinded; determine that the property should not have been sold and that there is no legal purchaser for value, rescind the sale and order a refund to be issued to the purchaser of the property or his successor in interest for the purchase amount of the property, plus interest; determine that the property should not have been sold, but that there is a legal purchaser for value, and therefore the county has no power to rescind the sale; or take other action as appears proper to the board after the hearing.
In other matters:
The board will conduct a public hearing on adopting fees for operation registration and permitting services of cottage food. The matter is in response to Assembly Bill 1616, a new law that became effective Jan. 1 and allows community-based food production in home kitchens, commonly known as “cottage food.” If OK’d, the fees will be implemented Feb. 1. County staff is recommending that the board approve an annual $175 fee for cottage food registration and an annual $291 fee to obtain a cottage food permit.
The board will consider approving the creation of an audit committee for the county to provide additional accountability and oversight of the county’s financial reporting, internal controls and monitoring activities, as stated in a staff report in Tuesday’s agenda.