By Carson Gerber
For the Pharos-Tribune
The Miami County commissioners had an idea last year: put a paltry $15 starting price on properties with delinquent taxes, and entice bidders to purchase the lots and once again start paying taxes on them.
The idea worked.
Out of 135 land parcels up for auction at a commissioners’ sale earlier this month, the county sold all but 12, for a grand total of $88,500. Online bidding on the properties closed Friday.
Forty-six lots sold at the minimum $15 starting price. During the online auction, just four parcels sold for more than $200. The highest bid came on 3 acres of land in Deer Creek Township, which sold for $15,000.
Debbie Cunningham, land deputy in the auditor’s office, said it was one of the most successful commissioners’ sales in recent memory in terms of actually selling properties. However, it wasn’t as financially successful as the last tax sale in 2011, which garnered $103,000 on 88 parcels.
But commissioners said they weren’t too concerned about making a big upfront payback on the parcels. They just wanted them back in the hands of tax-paying citizens.
“There were two issues to me: getting the properties back on the tax roll, and getting the properties repaired by the new owners,” Commissioner Larry West said Monday. “Half of that has succeeded, but only time will tell if owners take care of their properties.”
Peru Mayor Jim Walker approached commissioners earlier this month to brainstorm ways to force buyers to repair properties purchased at the sale, many of which contain dilapidated houses or buildings. Out of the 123 parcels sold this month, 88 are located in Peru.
He said the city spent around $225,000 last year to tear down 22 dilapidated homes, some of which were purchased by buyers during county sales.
Officials are currently considering barring people from living on the properties until they are brought up to city or county building codes.