HUNTSVILLE — Scott County’s delinquent property taxpayers have been put on notice: regular tax sales are coming.
Clerk & Master Mike Potter announced in a public notice Monday that a tax sale has been scheduled for Aug. 24, with another to follow in November and three scheduled for 2018. Hours later, Potter appeared before Scott County Commission to inform the legislative body of his office’s intent to clean up the county’s chronic issue with delinquent tax accounts.
“The delinquent tax attorney (Patrick Sexton) is on board with this, and we’re all working together — myself, the delinquent tax attorney and the Trustee’s office,” Potter told commissioners Monday.
Speaking to the Independent Herald earlier in the day, Potter said the intent is to get the county’s delinquent tax sales on a regular schedule.
“We’re gonna get all of this cleaned up,” Potter said. “We’re going to get on a regular schedule and then try to have (a sale) once a year.”
The first tax sale will target delinquent taxes that date back to the 2006 and 2007 tax years — accounts that are about to roll off the books and become untouchable by the county. The November tax sale will see parcels of property on which back taxes are owed from 2008 and 2009 placed on the auction block.
The tax sales will continue in February, when the 2010 and 2011 tax year delinquent accounts will be auctioned, followed by a tax sale in May that will target the 2012 and 2013 tax years. A sale scheduled for August 2018 will target the 2014 and 2015 tax years.
After that, Potter said a sale will be held each June to auction properties on which taxes are owed from three years prior. In June 2019, the tax sale will target properties from the 2016 tax year; in 2020, it will be properties from the 2017 tax year that are on the auction block.
Potter said the three-year period is standard for counties that are auctioning parcels of property on which back taxes are owed.
“That’s enough time to do something,” Potter said.
Potter said his office collected $81,000 in taxes owed to the county last month, and is making regular phone calls to delinquent taxpayers to let them know they owe back taxes.
“We’re making phone calls every day to let these people know who are on the list that we’re going to do something with them,” he said. “People know now that we’re going to collect these taxes.”
The announcement that the county would step up its efforts to collect delinquent taxes drew praise from several county commissioners. Robin Newman, who represents the 6th District, had a simple message for the county’s taxpayers: “Pay your taxes.”
Potter and Newman agreed that hard times sometimes befall property owners, resulting in delinquent tax bills. But, Potter said, the 18 percent penalty that is applied to delinquent taxes is not worth the delay.
“We don’t want to sell anybody’s property,” he said. But, he added of the 18 percent interest on back taxes, “There’s nobody who is going to come up to the good paying 18 percent interest.”
Potter said he recently attended a tax auction in Campbell County, where 82 parcels of property from the 2014 tax year were placed on the auction block. All 82 parcels sold.
If a parcel of property on which back taxes are owed is sold at auction, the property owner has 12 months to exercise an option on the property, but it comes at a cost: all back taxes, including the 18 percent interest, must be paid, and the property owner owes a 12 percent premium to the person who purchased the property at auction.