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October 12, 2012

Clark County sells property without public vote

Commissioner Meyer’s daughter buys house, two other properties for $4,500

JEFFERSONVILLE — A property that received no bids at a Clark County Commissioners’ tax sale earlier this year was sold for $500 — without a public meeting or a vote on the sale — to a commissioner’s daughter July 4.

Additionally, two more properties that sold in the same commissioners’ sale after receiving bids from a company that does not exist were deeded to the commissioner’s daughter. All three commissioners voted to approve the sale.

All three properties were deeded to the daughter of Commissioner Ed Meyer via the company BMW LLC.

BACKGROUND

After a tax sale in 2010 failed to sell or collect delinquent taxes on 182 of 408 parcels, County Attorney Greg Fifer approached the commissioners to recommend that SRI Inc. handle the sale of 130 of the parcels, while the commissioners handle the sale of the balance through Fifer’s law firm, Applegate Fifer Pulliam LLC. The commissioners approved Fifer’s recommendation at their Oct. 28, 2010, meeting. At the time, the board of commissioners was comprised of Meyer, Les Young and now Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.

At their next meeting in November 2010, Fifer presented a resolution affirming the commissioners’ intent to conduct a commissioners’ sale of tax-sale certificates for properties that are “severely delinquent” in the payment of property taxes. The commissioners adopted the resolution unanimously.

In late-2011, Fifer obtained the commissioners’ authorization to have two independent appraisals conducted on nine remaining properties and advertise to the public that the properties were for sale. No advertisements were issued at that time.

The first advertisement for the sale of the properties was published in the News and Tribune on Feb. 18. At a March 1 meeting, the commissioners held a public hearing in which it was announced that bids for six properties with a total appraisal of $154,000 were made. The other three properties had been redeemed by the original owner by paying back taxes.

On March 15, bids for four of the six properties were unsealed at the next commissioners’ meeting, including two bids placed by BMW LLC, with an address of 1022 Caiman Court in Sellersburg. One of the properties, located at 4803 Ind. 62 in Jeffersonville, had an average appraised value of $53,500. The other, located at 1117 Sportsman Drive in Jeffersonville, was appraised at $18,000. Both bids were for $2,000.

Because all four bids were for less than 90 percent of the average appraised value of the properties, the commissioners had a meeting March 29 to invite the bidders to increase their bids. There were no new bids.

On May 10, the commissioners held another public meeting, and hearing nothing new, voted unanimously to approve the sale of the four properties for the value of the original bids.

On July 4, deeds for the two properties bid upon by BMW LLC — which does not legally exist, according to the Indiana Secretary of State’s website — were signed over by Young to Brittney Michelle Wardlaw, who is Meyer’s daughter. Additionally, a third property which was listed in the original advertisement but was not bid upon, located at 916 Walnut St. in Jeffersonville with an average appraised value of $28,000, was sold to Wardlaw for the sum of $500. Fifer notarized all three deeds.

The other properties sold during the commissioners’ sale included 211 Level St. in Charlestown and 920 Pratt St. in Jeffersonville. The Charlestown property, appraised at $15,000, sold to William Burden for $500. The Pratt Street property, appraised at $13,000 was sold to Budget Printing Center for $6,100. The sixth property listed on the initial advertisement is still deeded to the commissioners, per the county’s GIS website.

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