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Properties up for bid in certificate sale


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HANCOCK COUNTY — Want to own a parking lot in downtown Shirley?

With a minimum bid of $73 and a few legal hoops to jump through, it could be yours.

Hancock County officials will have a certificate sale April 3 in an effort to get properties with delinquent taxes back on the property tax rolls.

Called a commissioners certificate sale, the event will have nearly a dozen properties up for sale with a minimum bid of 10 percent the taxes owed on the property. Minimum bids will range from $15 to $1,083.

Because the property owners owe property taxes, county commissioners obtain the certificate of the property. If the owner wants to get the property out of the sale, they may pay the full price of the taxes owed either before the sale or within 120 days of the sale. Otherwise, anyone can bid on the property and go through the legal paperwork to obtain the deed.

Some of the properties in the sale are strips of land between two neighbors; some are landlocked parcels; and others are properties with dilapidated buildings that have been ignored or forgotten over the years.

Hancock County Treasurer Janice Silvey said the properties have already gone through a tax sale but nobody bought them. The idea of a certificate sale is to sell the properties for a low price with the hope that somebody will take them and pay the property taxes every year.

A certificate sale is different from the county’s annual tax sale, Silvey said, but they’re both held for the same purpose of collecting unpaid property taxes. A tax sale is held every year where bidders must pay the entire price of the delinquent taxes and the original property owner has a year to redeem the property.

Properties in a certificate sale, however, did not sell in the tax sale. Officials set the minimum bid low enough to see if anybody would want to take the property and start paying taxes on it.

“That way it will be back on the tax rolls and we’ll be collecting the money once again as opposed to it going year to year and nobody paying taxes on it,” Silvey said.

The Hancock County Commissioners approved the sale unanimously Tuesday. The last time such a sale was held locally was in 2007, when six properties were up for bid at a minimum of $1. Only three sold.

“We try to get rid of them because we don’t want them just sitting in our own back pocket because it’s not doing anything for anybody,” said commissioners President Derek Towle.

The 11 properties total $41,621 in delinquent property taxes. The property with the most delinquent taxes is a home at 7904 N. CR 600W in McCordsville.

Tonya Galbraith, McCordsville town manager, said the town deemed the property unsafe seven months ago, and the property owners promised to demolish the structure.

Silvey said while some of the other properties may have buildings, others are simply strips of land. One property on Fourth Street in Greenfield, for example, is a strip of land between two homes.

“On something like that, we’ll try to contact the other neighbor and let them know there’s property for sale,” Silvey said.

The sale will be administered by SRI Inc., which will get 15 percent of the money generated from the sale. The rest of the money will go into county government coffers.

SRI representative Clair Schaler said about half of Indiana’s counties hold certificate sales annually, but in Hancock County’s case there are not enough unsold properties from tax sales to justify an annual event.

Property owners are notified that they have delinquent taxes through the annual tax sale process. For the certificate sale, a legal advertisement is placed in a newspaper three times to notify owners.

The certificate sale will be held at 10 a.m. April 3 on the main floor of the Hancock County Courthouse Annex.

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