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City says improved foreclosure tracking needed

Woodbury City Council members gave the city the go-ahead to pursue a fee-supported registration system to track foreclosed properties.

City officials said the number of foreclosed homes is steadily increasing and they need a better way to monitor the properties - and to pay for time spent inspecting the homes.

The city uses a spreadsheet to monitor foreclosures, but a formal registry would provide more information on a home's status and offers a way to collect money for the work involved in foreclosure monitoring, housing officials said.

Inspectors checked out more than 300 foreclosed homes in recent weeks, trying to determine which are vacant and addressing code violations. That takes staff time and money, Ron Glubka, Woodbury's chief building official, told the city council during a Tuesday workshop.

Council members did not vote on the plan.

In the meantime, city officials are to consult with local business leaders and realtors for input on a foreclosure registration system and a fee to cover vacant property monitoring costs.

Woodbury expects more than 400 foreclosure sheriff's sales in 2009, up from 335 last year.

City council members rejected another housing proposal. The council was asked to allow the city to push for quicker foreclosure resolutions, so that vacant houses can be put back on the market sooner.

The city could urge the courts to reduce a six-month foreclosure redemption period to just five weeks, but council members said that is too much government meddling. They said the city should not advocate for shorter redemption periods simply because it is allowed under state law.

"As a city, I don't want to be on that side," council member Julie Ohs said.

"That part I didn't like," added Mayor Bill Hargis.

See the Nov. 18 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin for more information.