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County to conduct online tax auction

The Archuleta County Treasurer’s office will conduct an Internet auction for delinquent real estate and mobile home taxes, while individual auctions for delinquent personal property taxes may take place at a later date.

Being the second small county in Colorado to conduct such an auction online, the process will be a first for Archuleta County.

Distrained properties are advertised in this week’s edition of The SUN, and, unless owners pay their delinquent bills on that property (with the exception of personal property), the taxes will be auctioned at the county’s www.archuletataxsale.com Web site on Nov. 3.

According to Betty Diller, county treasurer, persons delinquent with property tax bills to the county will have been notified no less than four times during the past year and are now responsible for advertising and distraint fees, along with interest on delinquencies.

“We’re trying to follow state statute and apply it equally,” Diller said.

As of press time, over 1,100 tax bills remain in delinquency throughout the county, with 143 of those being mobile homes, 176 being personal property (items such as business computers, restaurant equipment and other items necessary for running a business), with the rest being real estate.

If property is distrained by the county, the tax bill is auctioned off with the winning bidder paying the tax bill. In the case of real estate taxes, the unpaid tax bill goes straight to auction and if the winning bidder pays those taxes for three consecutive years, the bidder can then apply for a treasurer’s deed on the property — essentially giving the bidder the opportunity to buy property for the cost of the assessed tax and accompanying fees.

Distrained mobile homes, however, are not similarly restricted and there is only a one-year waiting period before a bidder (who pays the delinquent bill) can apply for the treasurer’s deed. Furthermore, the distraint is subject to the due date of the tax. For instance, if the delinquency is from 2007 and a winning bidder pays that delinquent tax and fees, they can immediately apply for the treasurer’s deed.

However, if the mobile home owner also owns the property where the mobile home resides, it is subject to the three year waiting period

Personal property, if distrained by the county and a lien is levied on it, is eventually sold at auction after it has been seized by county officials. Personal property will not be subject to the Nov. 3 auction, but will be auctioned at a different date (as determined by the process).

Once a bidder takes possession of a property owner’s tax lien, the property owner (if they are concerned with retaining their property) must pay the county the full amount of the bill and all accompanying fees, plus interest accrued on the bill — 10 percent this year, by statute.

Conversely, persons interested in bidding on tax bills can only participate through the online auction. If anyone is interested in the auction, but does not have internet access, “They can come into the (treasurer’s) office and we’ll direct them on how to get online. They can go to the library, where they have 13 computers available. If they don’t have a library card, they can get a guest pass,” Diller said.

The online auction site will be live Oct. 13 for people wishing to navigate the site and practice the process. For people wishing to participate in the auction, a ten percent deposit (of what the investor plans to spend) is required for auction participation.

According to Diller, the county uses an online auction site that has a data base of over 11,000 investors.

“Last year we had a lot of properties left. We’re hoping that this year, by using the site, we won’t have so many unsold.”

People seeking more information regarding the auction or wishing to pay a delinquent tax bill can contact the treasurer’s office at 264-8325.

jim@pagosasun.com