Elizabeth Township man sues to stop tax sale

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2003

An Elizabeth Township man has filed a lawsuit, hoping to stop the sale of his and other properties in a sheriff's office tax sale scheduled for Friday at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

Philip Kline, of 6016 State Route 650, filed his class action lawsuit in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Southern West Virginia in Charleston, W.Va., last week. Kline said he owes between $4,500 and $5,000 that had accumulated over a four-year period on approximately 54 acres he owns. Kline said he is disabled and had been hoping to get his back taxes paid when county officials went ahead with the tax sale.

"I've been mad as hell about this for quite a while," Kline said Monday. "This (class action lawsuit) is stopping them (property owners) from being swindled out of their land. There should almost never be a tax sale."

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Kline said he had asked the prosecutor's office in June to allow him to make payment on the delinquent amount, and was refused.

"There's a provision in the state law that can give them 2-10 years to pay, but they're not telling people this," Kline said. "The government was instituted to protect people but they're not doing it. They're harming people."

Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Waldo said he was not aware of such a lawsuit, and therefore was unable to respond to it.

"I have no comment on it- period," Waldo said.

Waldo said delinquent tax payers do have the ability to pay taxes on a payment system, up until the time such a complaint for foreclosure is filed. After that, the delinquent amount must be paid in full.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. filed a lawsuit against owners of more than 2,000 parcels of real estate in April in an effort to collect back taxes that were delinquent for more than two years.

At that time, it was estimated that those delinquent taxes amounted to nearly $2.3 million. The money from the delinquent tax collection effort will go into the county's general fund.

Collier said it has been four or five years since the county made this sort of effort to collect delinquent taxes.