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County may hire outside company to handle tax sales

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GREENCASTLE -- Not even half of the 744 properties up for sale at Nov. 3's Putnam County Tax Sale were sold.

This situation has left the Putnam County Commissioners looking for other avenues to divest themselves of the delinquent properties.

At their meeting on Monday, the commissioners heard a proposal by Joseph G. Edwards, vice president of Indianapolis-based SRI Inc., about ways to go about selling the properties.

The 356 properties still left on the tax sale property status report for Putnam County represent just over $1.2 million in uncollected taxes.

"You could do a live sale or Internet-based sales," Edwards said.

Commissioner Gene Beck asked Edwards what he suggested.

"With the quantity you have, I think an Internet sale is probably best," Edwards said.

Edwards said Internet sales are left up for about 10 days. Notice of the sales would have to be published three times prior to the opening of a sale.

For an Internet sale, SRI would charge the county 10 percent of the proceeds. A live sale would cost the county 15 percent of all proceeds received.

"We sure have enough to sell yet," Beck said with a sigh.

Commissioner Jim Baird asked if there was any way to get a sale done by the end of the year.

"No," Edwards said. "You're looking at a 45-60 day time window to get a sale going."

The commissioners took no action on the proposal.

Under Indiana Code 6-1.1-25, counties in Indiana have the right to place liens on property, sell that property and recover any delinquent taxes on it.

Before this year, a tax sale had not been held in Putnam County since 2005. Notifications were sent last spring to 1,900 property owners, and 744 ended up on the tax sale list.

Also at the meeting, County Planner Kim Hyten put two bids before the commissioners for the replacement of the 40-ton heating and air conditioning unit on roof of the Putnam County Jail.

The first proposal, from Trane in Indianapolis, was for $52,510. The second proposal submitted by Indianapolis-based Perfection Group Inc., was for $51,950.

"I have reviewed both proposals, and I believe that each is comparing apples to apples," Hyten said. "Both quotes have the same warranties proposed."

Hyten said that if county workers could remove the old unit, "We could scrap it ourselves and put the money back in the jail fund."

"We'd make a little money ... no where near what we're spending, but a little," he said.

The commissioners took the bids under advisement, but made no decision. Hyten said he would like to award the bid by the end of the year.

"I'd like to have the unit on by the first week of March and up and running by April," he said.

Also Monday, the commissioners agreed to sell salt and sand mixtures for winter road treatments to the towns of Fillmore and Roachdale for $37.21 per ton.

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I attended the Nov. 3rd tax sale. It appeared to me that the majority of unsold properties were located in the Heritage Lake complex and a couple of other similar developments around the county. Based on the information that was provided I assume many were empty lots that were delinquent on both taxes and sewer assessments. Under the current economic conditions I can't see many buyers for these properties regardless of the method used to market them.

-- Posted by local-yokel on Wed, Dec 9, 2009, at 10:13 AM

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