Madison County to hold annual auction of late property taxes

News-DemocratJanuary 21, 2014 

— Madison County's annual auction of delinquent property tax bills is set to begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 13 at the Madison County Board room in the county courthouse.

The county has begun mailing delinquent property tax final notices to owners informing them they have until 4:30 p.m., Feb. 11 to pay delinquent taxes.

Taxes not paid in full will be sold at the annual sale that starts two days later, according to a statement from Treasurer Kurt Prenzler.

Taxpayers may make payments at collector banks and credit unions until Jan. 31. From Feb. 3 to Feb. 11, taxes paid at Prenzler's office must be paid in cash, money order or certified bank check.

Property owners can verify their payment status by calling Prenzler's office at 692-6260.

"We would also encourage anyone to check on an elderly family member or friend to make sure their taxes are paid," Prenzler said.

The state requires a tax sale to make sure taxing entities, such as school districts, receive their levied taxes.

The tax sale is a "reverse" auction. Taxes are sold to the tax buyer who bids the lowest penalty interest rate. The bidding starts at 18 percent, the maximum rate allowed by law.

The three tax sales that Prenzler has managed have resulted in average penalty interest rates of less than 4 percent -- far less than the average 18 percent during tax sales in 2007 and 2008, when Fred Bathon served as county treasurer.

Bathon has since pleaded guilty to federal bid-rigging charges and colluding with three tax buyers to ensure they won the bids at the highest interest rate. At least 10,000 Madison County property owners were forced to pay excessive interest rates during the years of Bathon's scam, which ran from 2005 to 2009.

Bathon, 59, began serving a 30-month prison sentence at the federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind., earlier this month.

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