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County sells 26 parcels at tax auction

IRONTON — Twenty six Lawrence County parcels fell under the hammer Thursday during the first of three scheduled auctions to dispose of property whose owners are delinquent on the taxes.

Conducted under the Lawrence County Courthouse rotunda by Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Waldo and Treasurer Stephen Dale Burcham, 38 registered bidders thumbed through 170 available parcels from all points in the county. When bidding concluded, 26 changed hands.

The remaining 144 parcels will be offered again to bidders on July 16 if its property taxes are still unpaid. Those parcels did not garner the minimum bid which was set as the amount of property tax due plus $250 in court costs.

A third date, if needed, has not been set.

Preliminary totals have the county collecting $56,413 from Thursday’s auction. Approximately $49,913 of that will be dispersed to the individual school districts where the parcel is located while the remaining $6,500 constitutes court costs for transferring the tax lien.

The highest winning bid of the day was a $9,600 bid by Robert Banasik for a 1.03 acre parcel on South Third Street. The property had been owned by Patricia Dickerson of Pedro and had $2,228 in past due property taxes.

Also getting considerable action was a delinquent parcel on Township Road 187 that went in spirited bidding to David Webb for $6,000. The property had a past due balance of $1,315 and was previously owned by Wilma Dillon of South Point.

In total, 16 different bidders walked away with parcels Thursday. Leading the way with five parcels was Jim Kratzenberg, whose bids totaled $6,509.

While there were some smiles by winning bidders, Waldo took about 25 minutes before the auction to remind those in attendance the rules and the seriousness of what was about to happen.

“What we are trying to do is return these properties to tax-paying status,” Waldo said. “This is a very solemn time and a serious situation. People are losing their property.”

The county started out with approximately 271 parcels against which legal action was taken and all properties were at least two years delinquent before being placed up for auction.

Before Thursday’s auction, many owners had come to Burcham’s office to settle their accounts and have their parcel’s taken out of the auction.

The county is able to auction parcels like the ones Thursday as property tax liens trump most any other liens. A tax lien sits above a mortgage, deeds of trust, mechanic’s liens and even judgment holder’s liens.

However, winning bidders are only satisfying the tax lien on the property and have to absorb any other outstanding debts associated with it.

Further, Ohio law clearly favors property owners in matters such as this and allows numerous opportunities for property owners to keep their land, provided they settle the tax debt.

Even after the tax sale, delinquent property owners have until the entry of confirmation is officially filed to redeem their property.

Waldo told those in attendance he expected the entry of confirmation to be finalized for the property sold Thursday in “two to three business days.”

While rare, should that happen, the winning bidder is refunded his or her money.