Commissioners give consent to file foreclosure suit

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Commissioners gave the city consent Thursday to file a foreclosure lawsuit against 128 properties in Clovis.

The properties are ones for which delinquent, unpaid sewer, garbage, weed cutting or demolition fees exist, City Attorney Dave Richards told commissioners.

The city finance office has diligently tried to collect on the delinquent accounts for at least six months with no success, he said, explaining in some cases the amounts owed are not large but the period of delinquency is long.

“This is really the only way the city has to pursue these accounts,” Richards said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the lawsuit, which would include all the properties in a single case.

A list provided to commissioners shows delinquencies ranging from less than $250 to almost $50,000 with many falling in the area of $1,000 to $2,000.

Once foreclosed, the properties would belong to the city and would be put up for public sale.

Describing it as a “major undertaking,” Richards said it is anticipated the lawsuit — the first of its kind in nearly six years — could be ready within a month.

Asking for consideration of alternative to foreclosure, Don Lopez spoke on behalf of his employer, who he said bought several properties in a tax sale.

Lopez said he has been working on the properties, trying to clean them up or repair them.

He asked commissioners to consider forgiving his employer’s debt and the debts of others who are working to clean up their properties so they could devote the money to improving blighted properties.

Richards said the “ability of the city to negotiate a settlement for less than all,” prior to the suit being filed is, “problematic.”

Lopez’ proposal met with little sympathy from commissioners, who said the collection efforts had gone on long enough and it was too late to wait to come forward when the lawsuit was being considered.

“That (delinquency) has to be paid for,” Commissioner Fred Van Solen said.

Mayor Gayla Brumfield said people purchasing property in a tax sale assume liens attached to the property and, “really need to be aware of that…”

In other business, the commission:

• Elected Commissioner Len Vohs mayor pro-tem. Vohs replaces Commissioner Randy Crowder, who has served two years in the position.

• Welcomed new commissioners Dan Stoddard and Fidel Madrid and honored exiting commissioners Ron Edwards and Isidro Garcia.

• Approved proclamations proclaiming March 15 to 21 to be Fix a Leak Week for water conservation; April to be Senior Olympics Month and April 1 to be Census Day.

• Agreed to waive liquor restrictions in a 100 foot by 100 foot area of Ned Houk Park on May 28-29 for a motorcycle rally. Event organizer Glenn Eagle said the rally he is holding on his property adjacent to the park, which he expects to draw more than 4,000 bikers. He will hire the bar Clovis’ City Limits to sell beer in the area under its license and using its insurance during the event.

He said the event will also provide a safe ride service to guests who have been drinking.