Commercial boom: Maryville records $13 million in commercial building
By Lesli Bales-Sherrod | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
More than $13 million worth of major commercial construction projects have been approved in Maryville in the past year, City Manager Greg McClain told City Council members at their work session Thursday morning.
“It feels good to see this kind of investment coming back into our town,” McClain said after handing out a list of 32 projects and their construction values. “And several of these are downtown.”
McClain also mentioned the housing comeback, as evidenced by Monday night’s planning commission meeting. Planners approved plats that would bring 159 new single-family homes to Maryville.
“It was probably the early 2000s since we saw that many lots in a meeting,” said Councilman Fred Metz, who also serves on the planning commission.
Mayor Tom Taylor noted that PlanET surveys show the top three things people look for in a community are schools, feeling safe in their homes, and good commercial development. PlanET is a regional partnership of communities building a shared direction for the future of Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon and Union counties.
City council members also learned Thursday morning about a new process for collecting delinquent personal property taxes. While the city traditionally makes phone calls and sends past-due notices, a change in state law now will allow the city to send registered letters from the police chief, giving taxpayers 30 days to clear up the debt.
If pay arrangements are not made, distress warrants will be issued, allowing the city to seize and sell personal property — not real estate — to apply toward the back taxes owed.
“We have a 96.81 percent collection rate,” McClain noted. “But delinquents stay on the books for 10 years, and we need to collect.”
Seized property will be stored at a secure location and prepared to be posted for sale on GovDeals, an online government surplus auction, according to an explanation of the process prepared for the council by city Finance Director Debbie Caughron.
At least 10 days prior to the sale, the city recorder will post an advertisement at the Blount County Courthouse, Maryville Municipal Center and the Blount County Justice Center with the time and place of the sale. Notices also will be mailed to the taxpayer’s last known address.
Once the property is posted on GovDeals, it cannot be redeemed by the taxpayer except through the online auction. Proceeds from the sale would go to cover taxes, interest, penalty, costs, attorney fees, costs of seizure, and costs of keeping and storing the property.
As of June 30, 2,533 parcels in Maryville were delinquent on their property taxes, for a total of $894,715.39 owed since 2003. However, 930 of those parcels and $551,387 of the total amount owed are for 2012, and Caughron noted some businesses purposely wait to pay them.
“We’ve got things on the books that haven’t been in business for eight years, and there are some that are not collectable because of bankruptcies,” she said. “But we are required to wait 10 years before we can write them off.”
Caughron added that in the past two months alone, the city has collected $130,000 of owed personal property taxes, and McClain is hopeful the new process, which has not started yet, will help the collections continue.
“If people see it’s a serious process, we’ll see less delinquency,” he said.