Michigan Senate OKs bills to avoid tax foreclosures

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

Lansing – — The state Senate approved legislation Wednesday sought by Mayor Mike Duggan to help financially stressed Detroit residents pay off overdue tax bills and avoid foreclosure.

Senate passage followed a lobbying effort by Detroit’s mayor, who met with legislative leaders and was seen explaining the House-passed measures to key lawmakers in the lobby area outside the Senate.

His year-long efforts to work with lawmakers now have paid off in several laws and proposed legislative changes aimed at helping the city overcome problems with blight and abandoned properties.

With no discussion, the Senate quickly approved two foreclosure-related measures:

■A bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Phil Cavanagh of Redford that permits a local government to set up a delinquent property tax installment plan and remove a home from tax foreclosure consideration if the owner agrees to it. Interest on the back taxes could be waived if the homeowner pays off what’s owed.

■A bill sponsored by Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, permitting county treasurers to waive interest added to what’s owed when tax-delinquent property is redeemed — provided the property was withheld from foreclosure. Added interest normally accumulates at a rate of 0.5-percent per month, according to Senate Fiscal Agency analysis.

House approval of some Senate changes will be needed before the bills go to the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder, who’s expected to sign them into law.