On Thursday, county officials conducted their annual delinquent property tax sale at the Clay County Courthouse.
The sale, which was conducted by Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh and Treasurer Debra James, along with representatives from Indianapolis-based SRI, Inc., made 212 parcels available to the 30 bidders in attendance.
"We had quite a few people come and pay their taxes in the weeks leading up to the sale, which took them off the list," Clay County First Deputy Auditor Erica Stallcop told The Brazil Times. "There were 383 parcels on the initial tax sale list, and we sold 69 of the remaining properties during the sale for a total of $71,200.52."
At the conclusion of the sale, there were 143 parcels remaining, which have been essentially turned over to the Clay County Commissioners for their consideration.
"The commissioners were provided with a certificate for the unsold properties -- which have a total of $136,876.15 in delinquencies and penalties attached to them -- and it is at their discretion on whether or not they choose to conduct another certificate sale," Stallcop said.
A property becomes eligible to be included in the sale if its owner fails to pay property taxes for at least three consecutive collections. Thursday's sale included parcels in which property taxes had not been paid since the Spring 2009 collection.
"Tax sales are a necessary function of county government," James said. "It is only fair to the people who pay their property taxes every year to pursue those who do not pay."
Owners of the parcels sold in Thursday's sale have one year to redeem the delinquent property taxes, along with other penalties and costs, in order to retain the property. If this is not accomplished and the purchaser has completed all necessary requirements -- title search, petition for tax deed, etc. -- then the purchaser obtains the property if a judge grants the deed.
While the number of parcels included in the countywide tax sale has gone down in the past couple of years, it is still an uphill battle to get them all back on the tax roll.
"It is our ultimate goal to return these properties to the tax rolls as quickly and efficiently as possible," Alumbaugh said. "Property owned by people who pay their property taxes ensures that our local government services are fully funded."
For more information about property tax sales, visit www.sri-taxsale.com.