2015-08-06 / Front Page

Tax sale sees few properties, bidders

By KIP BURKE
news editor

Only a handful of bidders came to the steps of the Wilkes County courthouse Tuesday morning to bid on properties being sold for delinquent taxes from the years 2013 and 2014.

By the time of this week’s auction, only 19 county properties and one city property had outstanding taxes and went up for sale. As late as last week, some 60 county properties and eight city properties were still advertised as being delinquent.

The list and description of properties up for sale was published through July in The News-Reporter, and each week the number of properties got smaller, Wilkes County Tax Commissioner Mary Hubbard said. “Owners of the properties came in and stopped the sale by paying all past-due taxes and the costs of the ad.”

Properties sold at Tuesday’s tax sale, she said, go to the high bidder, but because of the property owners’ legal right of redemption, the purchasers can’t do anything with the property for a year. “You can’t do anything with the property, not even cut the grass. The previous owner has a right to redeem their property for one year.”

Over the last few years, sales of real and personal property for delinquent taxes brought in tens of thousands of dollars to county and city coffers, but even more important to other taxpayers, it has made property owners come in and pay their back taxes to keep them from being sold. “It really put people on notice that we were serious about collecting property taxes, and more of them are paying on time now,” the tax commissioner said.

Sales in April, August, and November, 2013, were the first property tax sales in years, she said. Due to the county having had only temporary tax digests for several years, the delinquent property taxes were from the tax years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, with amounts ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

The previous tax sales are also having an impact on the payment of current property taxes, Hubbard said. Before this week’s sale, more than 99 percent of 2013 taxes had been paid, and more than 96 percent of 2014 taxes had been paid. “With the economy the way it is, that’s good,” Hubbard said.

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