After criticism from Ken Davidson of the Gazette, Lake County Treasurer Peggy Katona issued the following statement:
September 13, 2017-Bidding on parcels for the 2017 Lake County Treasurer Sale is under way and Lake County Treasurer Peggy Katona says it is too late for those whose property appears on the tax sale to make payment. In short, the Treasurer is turning away people who have cash in hand, telling them they cannot pay their debt at this time. After the tax sale concludes, homeowners who are already behind in their taxes will face additional fees that could be in the thousands of dollars in order to “redeem” their properties.
As you can see in the statement above, Katona states that Indiana Code provides that taxes must be paid before the time of
sale. Of course, she included the statute so it is easy to see that the statute does not say that. The statute clearly says taxpayers have until the time of sale. to pay. Additionally, the statute in question, I.C. 24-6-1.1, clearly makes reference to the “date of sale” throughout. Presumably, the drafters of the statute knew the difference between the “date of sale” and the “time of sale.”
As you can see above, the Treasurer has inserted the word “the” before sale. Inserting the word “the” implies that the statute refers generally to the tax sale and not the sale of an individual property as the statute indicates.
Online Sale vs. Live Sale
Recently Lake County went to an online tax sale process. This process involves one week of bidding and two days of sale. The sale of properties begins on September 18, 2017. Prior to that time, bidders are able to view and bid on properties but are specifically told that properties could be removed from the sale. That is a full week in which the sale of tax liens will not occur but the Lake County Treasurer refuses to take payments from homeowners. No distinction is made between the online bidding process and the online sale process.
Why It Matters
The question is not merely one of semantics, the question is whether your elected officials work for the residents of Lake County, Indiana or for vendors who skim millions in tax dollars. Lake County hires an outside vendor to perform the tax sale and pays them for each parcel that is certified for the tax sale. With nearly 17,000 parcels certified for treasurer’s sale and a fee of $80 applied to each one, you can see why it would be in the vendor’s interest to keep the scheme going. But it is in the interest of Lake County taxpayers to receive payments on as many properties as possible. More important, there are 17,000 properties on the treasurer’s sale precisely because the attitude of our elected officials favors vendors over taxpayers.
After the Treasurer’s Sale, municipalities throughout Lake County will line up to request commissioner certificates to properties that did not sell. That shortens the time that homeowners have to redeem and takes properties off the tax rolls for the foreseeable future. The City of Gary has a pending requests for over 5,000 properties at this time. If there are homes on the properties, the municipalities will likely seek state or federal funding to demolish them. It is an expensive propopsition for Lake County residents.
More on that later today. Oh and what about those payment plans for family and friends? Stay tuned . . . .
Please let us know in the comments or via email what you think of the Treasurer Peggy Katona refusing tax payments from Lake County homeowners.