GREENCASTLE -- The Putnam County Commissioners are still considering options for getting the 356 properties still on the delinquent list back on the tax rolls.
On Monday Joseph Edwards, vice president of Indianapolis-based SRI Inc., came before the commissioners for the second time to discuss the possibility of his company conducting either a live or Internet-based auction to get the properties sold.
"We've had good success, primarily with Internet sales," Edwards said.
SRI would charge 15 percent of the proceeds for a live sale, 10 percent for an Internet sale. The commissioners would have to set minimum bids for all the properties.
Edwards advised that if the commissioners do choose to auction off the delinquent properties that they set flat fees for minimum bids rather than analyzing and researching each parcel individually.
"Our fees can be tacked on to the prices of the properties so you will actually break even or make money," Edwards said. "If you do an Internet sale, it's like an e-Bay kind of auction. If a property doesn't sell, we don't get paid."
With an Internet sale, Edwards said, bidders don't need anything but an e-mail address. Auction winners will have 120 days to get all the legal issues connected to the properties taken care of, and once they receive deeds the properties can be taxed again.
The properties in question were among 744 properties that went up for tax sale on Nov. 3. They represent just over $1.2 million in uncollected taxes.
"In theory, if they didn't sell the first time at a tax sale, they won't sell at a second one," Edwards said. "Meanwhile, the people who own these properties are storing things on them, parking junk cars on them ... essentially doing everything but paying taxes on them."
Edwards pointed out that the Nov. 3 tax sale was the first such sale that had been held in Putnam County since 2005.
"These are not people who've just recently gotten behind," he said. "They've had plenty of opportunities to pay."
The commissioners took the matter under advisement.
"I think we just need to try to get rid of them," Commission President Gene Beck said.
In other business, Evelyn Chamberlain, rural development specialist for the Indiana Rural Communities Assistance Program, asked the commissioners to oversee a Community Focus Fund Grant for the Reelsville Water Authority.
The commissioners voted unanimously in favor of doing so.
CFF Grants, which are administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, can be for up to $600,000.
"There are improvements that need to be made, and only governmental entities can apply," Chamberlain explained. "All we really need from (the commissioners) is to sign off on the application."
Before the water authority can take further steps toward securing the grant, a community survey and other legwork must be done.
Treasurer Sharon Owens also came before the commissioners to show them a sample letter she will send to taxpayers who overpay their spring tax bills. The letter gives the recipient the option to send it back initialed, which would give the treasurer's office permission to apply any overpayment to their next year's taxes.
"We would obviously check the surplus list and make sure that person didn't owe any other delinquent taxes," Owens said. "I have people ask all the time if we can just apply their overpayments to their next year's taxes. We've never had this form before. Scott (Hoff, Putnam County attorney) is looking at it to make sure it's OK."
The final item on the meeting agenda was discussion with representatives from design firm DLZ and engineering firm Beam, Longest and Neff, the two companies that will be working on the new courthouse annex.
No dates for the project have been set, but the commissioners and the firm representatives talked about issues such as setbacks, parking at nearby businesses and residences, storm water drains and sewer lines.