Chesterton Tribune

Tax sale hauls in over $5M for county; treasurer pleased with performance

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The 230 properties sold to buyers during the Oct. 20 county tax sale raked in $1,866,280.32 in minimum bids for the county, reported the Porter County treasurer’s office.

County treasurer Mike Bucko said the sale which attracted roughly 80 bidders went “very smoothly” compared to previous occasions where sales would go for hours in a somewhat chaotic nature.

“We were done by 3 p.m. (almost five hours),” said Bucko. “Everybody got in the correct line where they were supposed to.”

This was the county’s first tax sale in four years. The county auditor and treasurer certified a total of 1,574 properties for the sale. From that original list, 736 properties paid prior to sale, owing back the county $3,812,664.92 in delinquent taxes.

The combined amount of $5,678,945.24 in redeemed delinquencies and penalties will now go back to the county and be given to the taxing units that have not been able to collect the taxes. The tax sale list compiled properties through 2007 pay 2008’s property tax bills.

About 300 properties were removed for cause prior to sale, most of which from Falling Waters subdivision who filed bankruptcy the day before the sale. Total amounts due from pulled properties amount to $2,403,682.88, which the county is hoping to get back on the tax rolls.

Bidders at the tax sale purchased a tax lien rather than the actual property. Property owners in order to have the lien removed must pay the successful bidder the tax sale or minimum bid amount and a 10 percent fee that would go directly to the buyer. In addition to that, the lien comes with a .027 percent daily interest rate (10 percent annually divided by 365) on the minimum or surplus bids that also must be paid by the owner.

However, six months after the tax sale purchase, the 10 percent fee on the minimum bid raises to 15 percent for the owners.

“They have 365 days to pay back the buyers. If they don’t, the buyer has rights to the property,” said Bucko.

A buyer who bids with a surplus can use that extra money to increase the value of the property. The surplus amount collected at the sale was $4,840,964.27. Combined with the minimum bid amount, the total buyer paid amount reached $6,707,244.59 at the sale.

For the 312 properties not sold on the sale, their liens are now in the hands of the county commissioners who could decide by resolution to hold a certificate sale, Bucko said.

The commissioners have not yet declared whether or not they will go ahead with a certificate sale. If so, they have the option of to reduce the amount of the tax certificates for less than the amount owed on the properties. This can either be done on a case-by-case basis or across the board, Bucko said.

The sale was managed by SRI Inc. of Indianapolis at a cost of $21,850.

On a different taxing matter, Bucko told the Chesterton Tribune that the second installment of the 2009 pay 2010 tax bills are due to his office by Nov. 10.

The treasurer’s office will set up lines this week for county taxpayers wanting to pay their bills in person. The office is located on the first floor of the county administration building (155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso). The building is however closed on Tuesday in observance of Election Day.

 

Posted 11/1/2010