County tax sale brings in #036;80,000

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Lawrence County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Waldo said two tax sales to dispose of property on which delinquent taxes are owed have been successful, as has the entire action to collect delinquent property taxes.

The second tax sale was Friday, two weeks after the first one. A third tax sale will probably be conducted later this month.

Waldo said 63 parcels of land

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were sold at the two tax sales, and this has generated approximately $80,000. Waldo said, however, that a half a dozen delinquent property owners have redeemed their property by

coming in and paying back taxes.

Waldo said the entire effort to collect seriously delinquent property taxes, from the time the complaint was filed in April until now, has netted more than $1 million. In addition, the tax sales have produced a secondary effect that, perhaps, county officials had not planned on -- tax collections for the second half of 2002 have outpaced the same timeframe in previous years.

"The main goal is to make sure that people realize that property taxes are a necessary evil," Waldo said. "They benefit school systems. Our job is to collect those taxes. We hate to take anyone's property, but if you don't pay, then you could lose your property. This is a simple fact. Taxes have to be collected."

The third tax sale will be different from the first two tax sales in that representatives from the county auditor's office and the courts will reappraise the unsold properties, setting a new price that Waldo said will be substantially less than the value of the land.

The property can then be purchased for the new price, plus court costs. At the two previous sales, the land was auctioned off for the amount of delinquent taxes, plus court costs.

"I would guess that we will sell 500-600 pieces of property at that sale," Waldo said. "I think most of it (the land) could go for $500-$700 (per parcel)."

This sale will be advertised prior to the sale date. Waldo said he thinks the third sale could be as early as mid-September.

Meanwhile, a property owner who filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court has chosen to keep his property by paying the back taxes he owed. Waldo said Phil Kline's land sold at the first tax sale

Aug. 15, but Kline opted to redeem his land the next day. Kline filed the suit hoping to stop the sale altogether.

The Lawrence County Prosecutor's Office filed the lawsuit in April against

the owners of some 1,500 parcels of land. All of the parcels of land in question had delinquent taxes for more than two years.