Tax auction to bring in $1 million plus

Apparently you can squeeze blood out of a tax delinquent turnip.

It looks like St. Joseph County will collect more than $1 million from properties that have had serious tax payment problems in the past.

The county’s deeply discounted on-line delinquent tax auction concludes at 8 p.m. Monday.

The county deliberately took a very aggressive approach toward pricing the properties, and St. Joseph County Treasurer Sean Coleman believes it worked. “We may be somewhere in the vicinity of $1.4 in collection from this process,” Coleman said.

All 27-hundred properties included in the on-line auction had been passed up at conventional delinquent tax auctions in the past.

“This process is no longer about the collection of delinquent taxes as much as it is about the collection of future taxes.

For instance, the Scottsdale Community Club building 4802 York Road had accumulated an unpaid property tax bill of $700-thousand over the years. At the on-line auction, the minimum bid was set at $70-thousand—a price one bidder did find acceptable.

“Something is better than nothing for us, if we can collect some on the delinquent amount due, that’s a good thing,” said Coleman.

In some cases, the county got more than it asked for. The minimum bid for a delinquent home on Darden Road had been set at $1,043, yet by mid afternoon the bidding price had worked its way up to $22-thousand. The home has an assessed value of $90-thousand.

The minimum bid for a multi unit apartment house on Lincolnway East in Mishawaka was set at $1,900, yet the actual bidding had worked its way up to $17-thousand.

“We can end up with more than a million dollars in bids on these properties, that just as of October didn't fetch any money at all,” Coleman remarked.

Not all the 2,790 properties up for auction drew bids, and the county may face some more tough delinquency decisions in the future. “We may do further discounting, who is to say at this point,” said Coleman. “But I think we’ll want to continue to be aggressive based on this experience and how much it’s allowed us to collect.”

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