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County preparing for tax certificate sale

Sunday, September 27, 2009

(Photo)
Clay County is continuing its attempt to get every property back on the tax roll.

For the first time in a quite a while, the county will be conducting a tax sale in consecutive years, starting at 8 a.m., with bidding slated to begin at 10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 26, in the rotunda of the Clay County Courthouse. Prior to last year's sale, the county had only one other since 2002, which occurred in 2006.

Being able to conduct a tax sale in back-to-back years has been beneficial to the county as fewer properties are labeled with a delinquent status.

"At one point last year, there were nearly 800 properties on the tax sale list," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh told The Brazil Times. "As of (Thursday), there are 267 on the current list, which obviously may change as residents pay their delinquencies."

In total, the tax delinquencies and subsequent penalties add up to $280,877.36 across the 267 properties.

Certified mailing of notices to the delinquent properties were sent out Aug. 24, with a second notice via First Class Mail to be sent Oct. 1.

"We do what we can to notify the owners of the properties about the tax sale," Deputy Auditor Erica Stallcop said. "We don't always get a return stating they received the notice, but if the delinquencies are not paid, it is going to be in the sale."

Like last year's sale, the highest bidder will receive a tax sale certificate for the property -- upon payment of all associated costs by the end of the day of the sale -- which is valid for one year.

"Nothing has really changed in how tax sales must be conducted," Alumbaugh said. "Those receiving certificates still have a year from the date of the sale to conduct the title search and go through all the steps necessary before a tax sale deed is awarded."

However, receiving a tax sale certificate is not a guarantee of ownership to a specific property as the current owner also has a year to reconcile the delinquent taxes and incurred penalties. Also, should the year pass and the winning bidder does not complete the steps necessary to obtain the deed, the certificate becomes null and the costs paid the day of the tax sale are not refunded.

"It is definitely a 'buyer beware' sale," Alumbaugh said. "Now should the current owner reconcile the delinquent taxes within a year after the sale, the bidder would then have their money refunded."

While there are currently 267 properties on the tax sale listings, the owners of those parcels have the opportunity to dispute being on the list by submitting a letter of objection. All letters of objection will be reviewed Oct. 21.

According to Clay County Treasurer Debbie James, delinquent property owners will be able to pay off their taxes and late fees through 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, to keep their property from being included in the sale.

"We will, however, respect individuals with special circumstances and allow them to pay what is owed at the start of business (8 a.m.) the day of the sale, as long as they notify the Treasurer's Office beforehand," James said.

For questions or more information about the tax sale, contact the Clay County Auditor's Office at 448-9001 or the Clay County Treasurer's Office at 448-9009.



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