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Monon brings $9,000 at tax sale; county nets $897,918 overall

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Monon restaurant property at 814 N. Jackson St., Greencastle, was sold for $9,000 at the Putnam County tax sale earlier this week. [Order this photo]
Sixty-five delinquent Putnam County properties were sold this week when county officials conducted their annual delinquent property tax sale.

Most notable was sale of The Monon Restaurant property at 814 N. Jackson St., Greencastle, to Eric Wolfe, a Tucker-Schneider real estate agent and DePauw University Greek Life coordinator.

Putnam County Treasurer Sharon Owens confirmed that The Monon was sold to Wolfe for $9,000 at Wednesday's proceedings.

The $9,000 includes approximately $3,000 in delinquent real estate taxes. Wolfe outbid a couple of other bidders to acquire the tax lien on the property.

"My wife and I have been buying properties at tax sales for three or four years now," he told the Banner Graphic. "Usually our intentions are to sell the properties."

But if the owners -- in this case, Jerry and Bev Monnett -- pay the back taxes, interest and penalties, the Wolfes are content to have earned a return on their investment, he said.

If not, in a year they can petition the court for the deed to the property and either sell it, rent the restaurant building out to someone else or become the new proprietors of a local landmark.

"We don't intend to run a restaurant ourselves," Wolfe said with a laugh.

He said his purchase was minor in comparison to some of the $65,000 and $60,000 sales of acreage and residences, calling it a "great day for the county to get those properties back on the tax rolls."

"Ours was a small one really," Wolfe said of his $9,000 purchase, "but one with a lot of history.

"The land isn't very big," he continued, "it only runs from the railroad to about halfway into the parking lot (south of the building) that it shares with Furniture Awarehouse. There's definitely not much land there."

So the Wolfes cannot do anything with the property essentially until Sept. 15, 2012.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "You can call me in a year and see what I'm going to do with it."

The Monon was forced to close its doors Monday, Sept. 5 after the Indiana Department of Revenue ordered it shut down because the Monnetts had lost their Indiana Registered Retail Merchant's Certificate as a result of failing to pay back retail taxes.

But it was he Monnetts' failure to pay delinquent real estate taxes that resulted in The Monon property being sold at the county tax sale.

According to county officials, a tax lien on delinquent property may be sold to the highest bidder to satisfy the tax obligation. Owners of properties sold at the tax sale then have one year to pay the delinquent property taxes, costs and penalties in order to retain their property.

Overall, the local sale, conducted by Indianapolis-based SRI Inc. on behalf of Putnam County and its Treasurer Sharon Owens and Auditor Stephanie Campbell, offered 325 parcels to 34 bidders. SRI conducts tax sales in 83 counties in Indiana, Michigan and Colorado.

This year's tax sale resulted in a total collection of $897,917.99 in taxes, penalties and costs from buyers on the day of the sale and owners who paid in full prior to the sale.

"It is our ultimate goal to return these properties to the tax rolls as quickly and efficiently as possible," Treasurer Owens said. "Tax sales are a necessary function of county government. It is only fair to the people who pay their property taxes every year to pursue those that do not pay."

A property tax sale is required to be held in each Indiana county for those properties where an owner of real estate fails to pay the property taxes from the prior year's first property tax bill installment.

For the 260 Putnam County properties that did not sell, the county commissioners acquire a tax lien. The county commissioners may then offer those properties to the public at a sale at a later date.

"Property owned by people that pay their property taxes ensures our local government services are fully funded," County Auditor Campbell said.

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Turn it into a church That will stop this whole "return these properties to the tax rolls as quickly and efficiently as possible" stuff.

-- Posted by mickhamblen on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 12:36 PM

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