TYLER — Smith County has received the prestigious National Association of Counties Achievement Award for its role in the Tax Trust Neighborhood Revitalization Project (TTNRP). According to a county news release, that’s a collaboration of local taxing entities working together to transform neighborhoods through the creation of affordable, new housing. Smith County Judge Joel Baker; Precinct 4 Commissioner JoAnn Hampton; and Jim Lambeth of law firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP accepted the award at the NACo annual conference in Fort Worth on Sunday.
The TTNRP brought together the County of Smith, City of Tyler, Tyler Independent School District and Tyler Junior College in an agreement to donate tax foreclosed properties to urban revitalization. According to officials, the project aids in the revitalization of a once declining neighborhood through the elimination of abandoned and substandard properties, replacing them with new single-family homes.
A total of 13 properties have been renovated, and those that are occupied so far have added $93,180 of property value back to the tax rolls. Approximately $5,000 has been collected in property taxes from new home owners. “This project is creating more family-owned rooftops in North Tyler, and creating beautiful spaces where there was once abandoned and unsightly property,” said Hampton, who’s also a Tyler First board member.
Here’s a thumbnail of the project history, according to county officials: In 2007 Smith County Tax Assessor/Collector Gary Barber noticed a trend in properties that where becoming vacant and abandoned in a concentrated area. Barber and Hampton worked to bring together the partner entities and negotiate the terms of an agreement. Hampton worked with the home developers first hand and helped design the interior and exterior of several homes. The City of Tyler used Home funds and CDBG funding in order to build the homes on the properties that were turned over. Law firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP worked throughout the project to close out and collect on the tax liens for these tracts of land, making the project possible.