Tax lien sale could reap close to $700,000

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The $2 million mark is looming as the county gears up for its third tax lien sale.

This time the county has a chance to recoup almost $700,000 in the sale set for 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at the first floor of the courthouse. Those proceeds will boost the $1.3 million already brought into the county from the two earlier sales.

Originally 339 parcels with delinquent taxes of $877,195 were to come on the auction block this time. However, since the notice of the sale was advertised, 65 property owners have come in to pay their taxes entirely or set up a payment plan bringing in $181,417 before the sale.

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“The number of parcels that have been redeemed or set up on contract have been sufficient to encourage people to come in and pay their taxes,” Stephen Burcham, county treasurer, said. “The number of (payment plan) contracts has increased substantially. People are looking to come in and catch up on their taxes.”

A tax lien sale allows potential buyers to bid not on the taxes or the property, but on an interest rate they may received if the property owner redeems the parcel after the lien is sold. That interest rate begins at 18 percent and goes down by quarter percent.

As in the other two sales, all bidders must put down $500 in cash before the sale and pay at least 10 percent of the back taxes, administrative costs, penalties and interest the day of the sale. Bidders have until the end of the week to pay the balance.

“(Tax lien sales) seem to move along a little quicker in terms of getting money into the county coffers and out to the school districts,” Burcham said. “I would like to get it to where it is on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. It would depend on the number of parcels available. If we can do them fairly regularly, it should keep most people current on their taxes.”

A tax lien sale brings in revenue quicker than a delinquent property sale since the former is only dependent on Burcham’s office to organize the auction. A delinquent property sale requires input from the prosecutor as well as other county offices.

“The longer it takes the property to go to sale, the higher the taxes on it and the more difficult to collect the taxes in full,” Burcham said. “On (a sale of delinquent properties) they had to be sold at a reduced amount in order to move that property.”

Some of the parcels in Monday’s sale have taxes four to five years in arrears with a few going back to 1981, the treasurer said.

There is a listing of the parcels available in Burcham’s office. The parcels were also published in The Tribune.

Potential buyers can register up to the day of the sale, but the treasurer’s office would prefer they come in earlier.