Rep. Ellis honored for work to change delinquent tax process

Published 2:04 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – The Association of County Commissions of Alabama has honored State Rep. Corley Ellis, R-Columbiana, for his efforts to pass legislation making the state’s delinquent property tax process more fair to property owners.

Ellis was honored by Shelby County Commission Chairman Jon Parker with a plaque from the ACCA during the Commission’s Oct. 22 meeting for working to pass House Bill 354 during the Alabama Legislature’s 2018 session. Shelby County Property Tax Assessor Don Armstrong also earned praise for working alongside Ellis to draft the legislation.

As a result of the bill’s passage, Shelby County soon will serve as a pioneer in the state for its process of collecting delinquent property taxes. Through the new process, which will begin in April 2019, the county will now auction liens against delinquent properties to collect unpaid taxes rather than auctioning the actual properties.

The bill allows other counties in the state to follow Shelby County’s lead by holding tax lien sales instead of property sales, although counties aren’t required to do so.

Under the old delinquent property auction process, Armstrong said bidders from large investment companies often would bid a percentage above the amount of back taxes actually owed on the properties and charge interest, leaving property owners with bills significantly higher than the original amount of taxes owed on the property.

Armstrong worked with Baldwin County Revenue Commissioner Teddy Faust, retired Coosa County tax official Charles Luker and local attorney Bill Justice to help draft the tax process changes before bringing the matter to Ellis to sponsor in the State Legislature.

Armstrong said Ellis worked tirelessly to pass the bill during the 2018 legislative session, although he was expecting to have to refile the bill for the 2019 session.

“They had originally said it would be next year before we could get it passed,” Armstrong said. “Corley did one heck of a job even getting it to the point of getting voted on, and to get it passed with a 96-0 vote was fantastic. He did a really great job.”