published Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Sequatchie County sells delinquent tax properties

IF YOU GO


The auction is set for 10 a.m. CST today in the main courtroom upstairs at the Sequatchie County Courthouse in downtown Dunlap, Tenn. To get to the courthouse from outside the county, take state Highway 111, U.S. Highway 127 or state Highway 28 to Dunlap’s Rankin Avenue. Take Rankin Avenue to Cherry Street and turn east. Go three blocks to the courthouse.

If you were ever wishing for a cheap piece of Sequatchie County, today could be your day.

County Commissioner Denise Kell says 55 tax delinquent parcels will go on the block this morning with starting bids at the level of tax owed and expenses associated with selling it.

“These are properties that when they went up for auction on the courthouse steps no one bid,” Kell said, and when that happens, the county winds up with the property.

County-owned property doesn’t produce property taxes, and that’s something remedied by the sale, officials said.

Officials also hope to unload two industrial properties Saturday: the former 62,500-square-foot Dunlap Industries building on 3.64 acres off Heard Street and an acre lot next to it, Kell said. That auction is separate from the special auction of the tax property, and the minimum starting bid for the building is $250,000, and the minimum for the acre lot next to it $50,000, officials said.

In the delinquent tax property sale, the minimum opening bid will amount to “what the county has in the property including advertising and auctioneer fees,” Kell said.

“They’ll have to pay 20 percent down ... and that money will be put into an escrow account,” she said.

Under state law, once the properties are auctioned off, the high bids are published in the local newspaper. Then members of the public have 10 days to counter the highest bidder, she said.

If a member of the public increases the high bid by at least 10 percent, the two highest bidders meet before County Executive Claude Lewis to pitch their best offers a final time, Kell said.

Commissioner Ray Hobbs called the selection of properties a “mixed bag.”

“Some of it is landlocked, and we’re hoping the people next to the lots want them,” Hobbs said.

He said the construction of state Highway 111 in the 1990s left some odd subdivided properties, and a couple of old developments left behind parcels whose owners stopped paying taxes and let them go back to the county.

“We have a couple of parcels where we’re selling the mineral rights only where people quit paying taxes on the mineral rights,” he said.

Hobbs said owners of the surface rights are the most likely parties to make offers, but he noted those rights are available to any bidder, just like the rest.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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