Collecting unpaid property taxes is an annual event in Indiana counties.

On Tuesday, the three-member Vigo County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved SRI Inc. to conduct the annual commissioners tax sale. The county has 810 parcels with more than $4.2 million in unpaid property taxes. Commissioners set a minimum bid for property at $250, but can set higher prices for some parcels. The sale is scheduled for April 3.

Commissioners issue a tax sale certificate, which is a tax lien that was not sold at a previous county tax sale held in September. The buyer gets the same rights as a lien buyer in the county tax sale, but unpaid taxes on property purchased in this sale are removed once a new deed is issued.

However, the buyer of a tax sale certificate has to hire an attorney to notify all potential interests in a property and obtain a court judgment to receive a property deed. The difference for this sale is that process requires six months instead of one year, said Vigo County Auditor Jim Bramble.

Joe Edwards, vice president of SRI Inc., told commissioners some counties, such as Delaware County, this year held a deed sale, where the county assumes the cost of clearing a deed. While this can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars up front, that county collected about $1 million in unpaid taxes.

After the meeting, Bramble said Indiana counties decades ago once held tax deed sales, however counties were then stuck with property it had to maintain until sold, which can be costly, he said.

Instead, Bramble said his office in November began another option to try to collect unpaid taxes — turn them over to a tax attorney.

“Our tax attorney began sending out notices in November, then with negotiations or having to go to court, we have started to get some payments,” said John Villa, tax sale deputy auditor.

The county in December received $19,276 and is to receive another $10,000 this month, Villa said. The county’s tax attorney is Zionsville-based attorney J. Alex Bruggenschmidt.

“We are hoping we can get at least some of the high end taxes that are due,” Villa said, as some properties in the upcoming commissioners tax sale have unpaid taxes of $23,000 or more.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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