Re-Published June 19, 2015 Article Called “Let’s Fix That” By George Lumley


We re-published the attached  June 19, 2015 article as a final tribute to our good friend George Lumley who was put to rest yesterday.  Thanks for allowing us to take you down memory lane. May George rests in peace. 

Starting today (June 15, 2015) the City-County Observer shall be running a series entitled “LET’S FIX IT.”  The series will be written by well-known community activist George Lumley of Vanderburgh County.

George is married 31 years to wife Nancy.  They have two grown children.  He is a semi-retired Certified Public Accountant.  He graduated from Indiana University with a B.S. in Business Management with honors.  He was Honorably Discharged from the U.S. Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard (non- combat role).

Past work experiences include Auditor for the State Board of Accounts and management positions in manufacturing, utility construction, and transportation.

Finally, we consider George Lumley ” a champion of the underdog and the little guy“.  We hope you will enjoy this detailed and eye-opening article about blight in our community by George Lumley.


Tax Sale For Blighted Properties Re-Defined In Senate Enrolled Act No. 415

By George LUMLEY

Sounds terribly quiet.  Is no one in Vanderburgh County/City of Evansville working on this?  All the fuss last year about the tax sale properties, tax sale zombie homes being sold and resold by the county and now no one here is showing interest in pursuing the legislated fix to the problem before another tax sale?  Maybe I am just out of the loop?

Are you familiar with the pictures of the falling down houses and stories of tax sale nightmares?  When I say falling down I don’t mean a little ragged looking.  Chimneys are actually falling off, roofs are caving in, and walls are falling against neighboring houses.  Many of these houses are the tax sale nightmares that have been sold for taxes over and over with some people getting the very last of the useful life from the dwelling and the final owner left holding the bag.  The trash bag that is.

Save these houses you say.  People could use them.  Some of them, yes, but many are just too used up and rotted away to save. Like the Styrofoam cups, I seem to accumulate from buying an occasional soda with a fill-up, there are so many. They are cheap, and no one wants them. There is no economic reason to wash and repair them. It is a throwaway society with new being more desirable and often cheaper than repairing the old.

At some point, trash has to be recognized as trash and hauled to the dump.  And who is going to pay for that?  We are talking about a nightmare zombie house, it’s a pipe dream if you think the last owner has money saved up for this final burial expense.  Just like the couch and other trash in the alley, it becomes a government job and our collective expense.  No need to point the finger and find every excuse, legal and otherwise, to avoid the expense and push it down the road to someone else’s budget.  The asset is used up.  It’s time to haul the trash off and put the bill in the accounts payable pile.

Why am I hearing about the city’s cost of maintaining these abandoned properties and all the related government expense of fire runs, police runs, etc. but little about fixing the problem – getting rid of the structures?  Why nothing about how we are going to use this grand legislative overhaul of the tax sale process related to the vacant and blighted homes to quit selling them at the tax sale and actually solve the problem by taking possession of and eliminating them.

One of several provisions of Senate Enrolled Act No. 415 provides that some vacant or abandoned properties, the tax sale zombies, can be pulled from the regular tax sale after the May 10th tax payment deadline, and sold by the County Auditor at auction after a 30-day notice.  And it provides that the County Auditor issue a deed at that time conveying a fee simple interest to the buyer.  There is no waiting and the buyer takes possession while the prior owner has no right to redeem.  Could we be selling those properties right now?  Does no summer mowing cost?  Why not?  Sounds simple, why are we not doing that?

I volunteered to help and attended a public meeting on blight in April sponsored by the Department of Metropolitan Development.  The blight problem was blamed in part on the tax sale law.  I offered the idea that this new SB 415 would give the city new effective tools to remove that perceived roadblock and the city should plan for its passage.  This was dismissed quickly with a statement indicating that the bill had no hope of passing.  The meeting seemed to me to be merely a sales pitch for funding a public land bank.

Let’s fix that.  Speak up and ask the candidates and elected or appointed officials why we are not using the tools available to fight the vacant and abandoned home issue plaguing some of our neighborhoods.  Ask why city/county officials are thumbing their nose at this tax sale reform rather than grabbing ahold and running with it for the betterment of this area.

Can you help me?


George Lumley