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Third, final tax auction Thursday

IRONTON — A third and final auction to dispose of property whose owners are delinquent on their taxes has been scheduled for Thursday.

Slated to being at 9 a.m. inside the Fourth Street entrance of the Lawrence County Courthouse, the auction will sell the remaining 140 estimated parcels still on the market following a pair of sales that resulted in 29 delinquent properties being snatched up by prospective buyers.

Those interested in bidding should register with the Lawrence County Treasurer’s Office by 8:30 a.m. the day of the sale to receive a bid number. Buyers must have a registered bid number to participate in the auction.

The third auction will have some slight differences than the other auctions as a court order will set the opening bid price for each delinquent parcel lower than what was asked in the first two.

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.

The remaining 140 parcels or so still available did not garner the minimum bid at the first two auctions which was set as the amount of property tax due plus $250 in court costs.

Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham office’s, along with volunteer appraisers, canvassed the still delinquent parcels to establish a median opening bid.

Burcham said following the second auction that 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 upcoming 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 is able to auction parcels like the ones on the block Aug. 20 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.

Confirmation has taken around a week following the first two auctions.

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

Approximate figures show the county collecting $72,631 in bids and fees from the first two auctions held July 2 and July 16.

Around $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.

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