City ramping up for online tax sale

By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

The owners of as many as 1,540 pieces of property in the city of West Point and the consolidated school district have until March 27 to pay their overdue property taxes or risk having them sold at the city’s delinquent tax sale April 1.

This year will mark the first time the city is doing the sale online through Govease.com, which is handling sales for a growing number of cities and counties across the state.

“It’s generating a lot of interest, we’re pleased so far,” West Point City Clerk Eddie Longstreet said Monday.

The list of the properties ran Sunday, March 10 in the Daily Times Leader. Property owners can avoid having the property sold by paying before March 27. Any payments made that last week must be made in cash or by certified check, Longstreet said.

The list printed Sunday contained 1,540 properties. Usually in the last few days before the sale, between 200 and 300 are paid off, removing them from the list.

“We’re looking to see about that many paid off this year, but you never know. We wish they’d all get paid off,” Longstreet said. “We set the cut off for March 27 to give us time to make sure the properties that are sold at auction are the ones that should be sold.”

The remaining ones will be sold through the online process which is growing in popularity among local governments. People wishing to participate must go to the Govease.com Web site and register and complete all the financial information.

As of Monday, 30 people had registered and 15 actually have completed the process. The deadline to register is March 29.

The city has scheduled a training session for those who want to know more about the system for 10:30 a.m. March 19 upstairs at City Hall.

The auction begins at 8:30 a.m. April 1 although the first bids will be able to be entered on the Sunday before.

In the three years it’s been in operation, the Govease.com system has produced higher overbids for most local governments, increasing the amount of money they get to keep. Govease.com takes a 1.25 percent fee from the overbids but nothing from the taxes and late fees owed on the property.

The increased overbids are one reason it is growing in popularity. But more importantly, the computerized system wraps up the paperwork in a matter of hours after the auction is completed, eliminating days, if not weeks, of tabulating and cross-referencing.

“It was punch some buttons and its was all closed out in a day or so,” said Clay Tax Assessor Paige Lamkin, who used the online system last August for the first time.

The system is anonymous so no one knows who other bidders are or what their bids are. Once the live auction begins, bidders know whether they've been outbid and can adjust if they want to, but they still don't know who they are bidding against.

The system continuously lets buyers know how much they've spent and what properties they've bought.

Bidders can see satellite views of the properties as well as traditional plat maps, the assessed values and actual value as well as taxes and fees owed and liens from prior years, if any.

The county required a little more than a day to sell about 900 parcels. If the city ends up with under 1,400, the sale likely can be done in two days.

Anyone with questions about the tax sale or delinquent taxes can call West Point City Hall at 662-494-2573.

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