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Property tax auction nets three winning bids

IRONTON — The second of three scheduled auctions to dispose of property whose owners are delinquent on their taxes saw three additional parcels fall under the hammer Thursday.

Conducted under the Lawrence County Courthouse rotunda by Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Waldo and Treasurer Stephen Dale Burcham, 17 registered bidders thumbed through 143 available parcels from all points in the county. In total, 29 parcels have changed hands in the first two initial auctions.

Preliminary figures show the county collecting $72,631 in bids and fees from both auctions. Approximately $65,381 of that will be dispersed to both the county and the individual school districts where the parcel is located, while the remaining $7,250 constitutes court costs for transferring the liens.

“I was very encouraged that a couple of additional properties were sold today,” Burcham said when pointing out the benefits property tax collections have on schools.

School districts usually receive between 70 to 75 percent of all property tax collections received by the county.

The highest winning bid of the day was a $9,528.01 bid by Ernest Fuller, Jr. for a parcel on County Road 411. The property had been owned by M.O. Ash and had $9,278.01 in past due property taxes.

Also sold Thursday was a 1.07 acre parcel on Township Road 331 that went to Larry Rose for $2,662.35.

The property had a past due balance of $2,412.35 and was previously owned by Oltie Edwards of Lockbourne, Ohio.

The final parcel to change hands was to Jim Kratzenberg for $4,028.30. Located at 1810 S. Third St. in Ironton, the parcel had been previously owned by James and Sara Kearns of Rush, Ky.

At the first auction, Kraztenberg led all bidders in garnering five parcels totaling $6,509.

The remaining 140 parcels will be offered again at a to-be-determined third auction to bidders if the property taxes are still unpaid.

Those parcels again did not garner the minimum bid which was set as the amount of property tax due plus $250 in court costs.

The third auction could have some slight differences than the first two. The first auction was held on July 3.

First Burcham and Waldo could ask the court to set the opening bid price lower than has been asked at the first two.

Burcham said his office, along with volunteer appraisers, would canvas the still delinquent parcels to establish a median opening bid.

“Generally speaking, at a third sale, the prices have been lower,” Waldo said before bidding began.

Burcham said he would also work with adjoining land owners to see if they would be interested in placing a bid on property at a reduced price the third auction could possibly bring.

Should parcels not sell at the third auction, Burcham would have two options.

First he could continue to carry the parcel and its unpaid taxes on the county’s books or could have the state of Ohio take ownership of the property and have the Lawrence County Auditor sell the property at an auditor’s sale at the county courthouse.

To date, Lawrence County has never conducted an auditor’s sale through the state. Burcham said in all other instances, the county has decided to keep the past-due parcel on its books.

The county started out with more than 200 parcels against which legal action was taken and all properties were at least two years delinquent before being placed up for auction.

Along with the monies collected from the auction, delinquent owners have paid an additional $212,000 back to the county to be removed from the auction ledger.

That amount comes from 57 separate parcels, according to the county treasurer’s office.

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.

On a similar note, second half property tax payment are due today by 4 p.m.