Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Commissioners prepare the ground for tax sale next year

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Commissioners John Evans, R-North, and Carole Knoblock, D-South, renewed a service agreement with the Indianapolis-based SRI Inc. that could help sell-off a few of the counties tax delinquent properties.

The commissioners on Tuesday approved a service master agreement with the company and a tax sales support services addendum that will needed to be signed off on by the county treasurer and the county auditor.

Porter County Treasurer Mike Bucko, who presented the contracts to the commissioners, said it would be very unlikely the county would have a tax sale this year. If it does happen, SRI will assist the county in conducting the sale and report the delinquent properties to the county.

A preliminary list will need to be given to the auditor’s office by the treasurer who certifies it. The auditors will then need to figure out who can be included in a tax sale if one is to occur. Those properties who have filed for bankruptcy or appealed properties cannot be on the final tax sales list, Bucko said.

Properties become eligible when taxes or assessments are delinquent from the prior year’s spring tax collection, a total of three times being late.

Successful bidders in essence “buy” the taxes owed on a property. The property owners then have an opportunity to redeem the parcel from the bidder by paying the bid price plus a minimum of ten percent return on the bid.

Bidders who do not pay the amount to the county treasurer will be charged with a civil penalty of 25 percent of the successful bid or can be sued in order for the county to collect the amount.

Bucko said it is most important that the list of properties be accurate. One thing to be made sure of, he said, is that he or the auditor at any time during the process can remove anyone from the list at no cost to the county right up to the moment of sale, which is spelled out in the agreement with SRI.

Bucko said he wants to ensure accuracy, saying errors in the tax sales could be “detrimental” to the county. The county would be liable if an improper sale was made and would then have to pay the costs.

The county has not had a tax sale since 2006. One of the reasons being the county has seen three software conversions during that time that have been blamed for late tax bills.

Bucko said he believes a tax sale can be stressful on those conducting the sale and even more stressful on the property owners.

Evans said tax sales can be of benefit to the county because it is a way to put back some of the missing tax monies into the general fund.

Porter County Auditor James Kopp said this morning he doesn’t expect the county to have a tax sale at least until next spring. He said his office does not have the necessary data converted in a way that is chronological which makes it tougher to find which properties have been delinquent to qualify for a tax sale.

Money Set Aside for MS4 Program

In other action, the commissioners also approved a request for $10,000 from Porter County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke for the purchase of additional spill kits, containment pallets and containment berm.

The materials will be placed in additional stations throughout the county to adequately clean up spills from oil drums and paints.

Breitzke said the program strives to be very frugal and cost efficient. He said the program is to protect water quality rather than water quantity.

Also on Tuesday, the Commissioners approved the county highway department’s request to approve a five-year lease for a sewer and catch basin cleaner. The cost for the lease is $306,881 from Northern Equipment of Plymouth.

Porter County Highway Superintendent Al Hoagland said the one cleaner they have now has been in use for about 15 years and recommended the commissioners approve the upgrade.

 

 

Posted 6/16/2010

 

 

 

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