Richwood joins Ouachita taxing system

Richwood has joined other Ouachita Parish communities in the consolidated tax collection system proposed by Assessor Rich Bailey last year.

Officials said they believe the move will remedy the town’s issues with delinquent taxpayers.

The town was cited by auditors in August for not having adequate procedures in place to ensure collection of all property tax assessments.

According to the audit report, the town collected $66,319 in property taxes in 2011, but about $8,214 in property taxes owed to the town was never collected.

“This failure to pursue collection of property taxes could continue to exculpate as more and more people learn the town does not enforce collection,” according to the audit.

After the report was issued, Ouachita Parish Police Jury attorney Jay Mitchell said the town wouldn’t have delinquent property tax issues had it joined the rest of the parish last year in the consolidated tax collection system.

Mitchell said Richwood property owners now will be held accountable for paying taxes.

Those who don’t pay will have their property seized and sold at tax auctions held each spring, he said.

Richwood Alderman Wysinger Cleveland said the move to the parishwide system was a good one, but he abstained when the Board of Aldermen voted. He said his concerns included the cost to join the consolidated tax system.

Participating municipalities pay an annual fee. Richwood’s fee will be almost $3,500.

Cleveland said he believes the town should have pursued delinquent taxpayers and continued to collect its own taxes.