News and Tribune

December 19, 2013

Clark Commissioners authorize title work on delinquent properties

Former Peddler’s Mall property on the list


JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County may be getting ready for another commissioners’ sale to liquidate tax-delinquent properties.

The county commissioners came into possession of tax sale certificates for 87 properties after they failed to sell at an Oct. 7 tax sale. Of those, the commissioners have identified 20 that they’d like to acquire tax deeds for that they feel could be potentially profitable for the county.

Because the commissioners are required by statute to tender notice to property owners and people with “substantial interest of record” in these properties, according to statute, the commissioners authorized County Attorney Jake Elder to get title work started during their regular meeting Thursday.

There are several steps that must be followed prior to a commissioners’ sale. In order to obtain tax deeds, required information including the right to redeem must be sent by certified mail to those with substantial interest within 90 days of issuance of the tax sale certificates. Because those certificates were issued Oct. 8, notice must be sent by Jan. 6, according to correspondence between Elder and attorney Laura Harbison.

The most notable property included among the 20 is 900 Eastern Blvd., which last had Peddler’s Mall as a tenant in 2009. More than $430,000 in unpaid property taxes is owed to the county by Lori Rappaport LaCroix, according to the tax sale certificate for the property.

“I have been contacted by local counsel for a specific purchaser who desires this property,” Harbison wrote in correspondence to Elder. “Further, it is possible that upon notice of the Commission’s certificate, the mortgage company may redeem the property.”

Of the 87 properties that the commissioners now hold tax certificates for, about half are small parcels adjacent to residences that simply need to be put back on the tax rolls, Elder explained.

“We’ll probably try to petition adjoining property owners and see if there’s any interest with them to take those properties in,” Commissioners President Coffman said.

The last commissioners’ sale was held in 2012. That sale, which was administered by the law firm Applegate Fifer Pulliam LLC — former county attorney Greg Fifer’s firm — resulted in three properties being purchased by Brittney M. Wardlaw, the daughter of then-Commissioner Ed Meyer, via a nonexistent company called BMW LLC.

Meyer voted to authorize the sale of two of those properties to BMW LLC. Those properties were later deeded to Wardlaw. A third property was conveyed to Wardlaw without a public vote for the sum of $500.

Statutory requirements for advertising the sale of the properties during the last commissioners’ sale were not followed.

“I can’t speak to how or what was done the last time this occurred, but I do know, the more people who know it’s for sale, the higher price that the county should get,” Elder said. “Whether it’s through the online auctions, whether it’s through real estate companies or auction companies, whatever is going to bring the most people out and receive the highest dollar for those parcels is what I’m going to recommend.”