Owners on notice about taxes | CraigDailyPress.com

Owners on notice about taxes

Christina M. Currie

The 136 property owners who haven’t paid their 2004 property taxes set the county back more than $70,000.

But the process that has been established to collect that money is so effective that it generally doesn’t affect the county’s cash flow.

“(Moffat County Treasurer Robert Razzano) has done such a good job of getting everything collected that by the end of the year, we’re generally only about .4 percent down,” county budget analyst Tinneal Gerber said.

Property tax notices are mailed in January. Those who haven’t paid by July are reminded with a delinquent notice. A phone call generally follows that, and then the property — and the property owner’ name — are listed in the Craig Daily Press.

“Once it’s advertised and the name is in the newspaper, that prompts a lot of people to come in,” said Teresa Smith, who works in the treasurer’s office.

Property owners who haven’t paid after the notice is published get a copy of it mailed to them.

Smith said property owners are given several chances to pay their taxes.

“We contact people and give them every chance to redeem the lien,” she said.

In fact, they generally have up to three years.

On Nov. 10, the treasurer’s office will conduct a tax sale. The minimum bid on any piece of property is the amount of the property taxes for the past year. The highest bidder must pay the taxes on that property for three years. If they have not been reimbursed by the landowner in that time, they can apply for the deed to the property.

At any time in those three years, the property owner can pay the taxes — the actual amount, not what they were purchased for.

“If someone bought it for more than that, that’s their risk,” Smith said.

On trailers, the highest bidder only has to pay the taxes for a year before the trailer becomes theirs, though they may not get the land it’s on for another two years.

It’s rare for anyone to lose a home because of a tax lien, Smith said. Generally, a mortgage company will pay the taxes and then charge the homeowner.

“You don’t see it happen a lot,” Smith said. “You never see a mortgage company not come in and pay the taxes.”

She estimates that four to six properties change hands a year. That’s generally because of a death or an inability to contact the property owner, Smith said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a house go,” she said.

Most liens that result in deed transfers are for trailers, mineral rights and vacant land.

There are 183 instances in which the taxes on mineral rights were not paid. Those are worth less to the county — $9,136.61.

Property owners have until Nov. 9 to pay their taxes to avoid a tax lien.

Gerber said that most of the liens auctioned are sold.

Property tax is based on the value of a home or property. The county assesses 20.993 mills. That means if a property is valued at 100,000, its taxes are $209.93.

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