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Second tax sale being discussed

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Residents may soon have another chance to purchase properties with delinquent taxes.

However, this time, they may be at a reduced cost.

During Tuesday's special meeting, the Clay County Commissioners discussed potential avenues for conducting another tax sale with the unsold properties from the countywide sale in December.

Currently, there are 123 properties which would be up for grabs, which the Commissioners automatically acquired following the previous sale.

"There was a statute passed in 2006 which allows a more aggressive approach to get the properties with delinquencies back on the county's tax roll," SRI, Inc., Indianapolis Director of Business Development Jeff Kemper said. "The big difference this time around is that the Commissioners may sell the certificates at a lower cost."

In a countywide tax sale, properties must be sold for at least the amount of delinquent taxes and penalties owed on each respective property.

"Not only can the properties be sold at a lower price, there is a shorter redemption period as well," SRI Client Services Director Glen Luedtke told the Commissioners. "If a property is sold in this sale, the homeowner has only 120 days to pay off the balance owed."

Kemper and Luedtke presented two options for the Commissioners to consider on how to conduct the sale; live and over the Internet.

Luedtke explained if a live sale were to be conducted, SRI's service charge would be $120 on each property sold, while if done on the Internet, their cut would be 10 percent.

"Having the sale on the Internet is a big advantage because it provides a wider market of buyers," he said. "It is really a win-win situation because people would be getting a good buy and the county would get the properties back on the tax roll."

He added SRI would set up computers at the courthouse the final day of the sale and would assist those who don't have a access to the Internet in placing bids.

The Commissioners liked the idea of having an Internet sale, but decided to conduct a live sale this time around and consider the online sale if properties remained.

"It's best to move these as fast as we can to get them back on the books," Commissioner Paul Sinders said. "Plus with the live sale, we can contact the adjacent landowners of the delinquent properties and they may be interested in making bids, especially on the small slivers of land."

Leudtke told The Brazil Times that, like the county-wide sale, bidders cannot have delinquent taxes either and homeowners wanting to redeem must still pay the entire amount owed, even if the price goes down for the Commissioners' sale.

Also, if the property is sold, the homeowner will also be responsible for paying 10 percent of the amount the property sold for on top of the owed taxes and delinquencies.

The Commissioners will review all of the available properties and determine how much to list them for during their sale. Currently they are considering making the prices for only what taxes are owed in some cases and listing others at $140-$150 to cover SRI's portion and advertising costs.

They have set a special meeting for Jan. 26, at 9:30 a.m., in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse to discuss the prices.

Once prices are set, they must be advertised in three consecutive weeks and the sale cannot occur less than 30 days after the third advertisement. Because of this, no date for the sale has been set at the current time.

Regardless of what a property may sell for, the buyer must still conduct a title search, along with the entire process of petitioning the courts for a tax sale deed in the event the homeowner does not redeem the delinquencies in the 120 days following the Commissioners' sale.

However, the potential decrease in prices has the Commissioners hopeful the delinquent properties will sell this time around.

"I just want to encourage people to at least take a look at the properties because they may get a good deal," Sinders said. "Even if they don't sell this time, we can look into placing the list of properties on the Internet.

The Commissioners have also set another special meeting for Friday, at 1 p.m., in the same location to review the engineering service for the USDA Rail Study.



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