By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
In an effort to get tax-forfeited properties back on the tax rolls, state and local officials are embarking on a program to sell the most marketable properties through a bidding process.
Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi's secretary of state, Mayor Cheri Barry, and county officials unveiled plans Wednesday for an auction of properties that belong to the state because owners did not pay taxes on them. The properties were listed online as of Wednesday.
Not all tax-forfeited properties are included in this auction. Officials narrowed down a list of about 500 parcels to 117 parcels inside Meridian and 42 parcels in the county that will be included in the sale, for a total of an expected $600,000 in value.
"This is an aggressive way of looking at getting our tax properties back in the hands of taxpayers and we've been working with the Secretary's office since last July," Barry said.
Wayman Newell, District 2 Supervisor for Lauderdale County, said the county is also looking forward to getting properties back on the tax rolls.
Hosemann said he noticed a couple of years ago that more and more properties throughout the state were being forfeited for nonpayment of taxes.
"Two years ago it was about 1,700," Hosemann said. "This year there were over 3,000 tax-forfeited properties."
The Mississippi Legislature passed a bill to allow the SOS's office to have some latitude in valuing property so it could take certain factors into account when determining a property's value. Lauderdale County is the second county in Mississippi to embark on the program with Hosemann's office. Washington County and the city of Greenville were the first.
A list of properties for sale is on the Secretary of State's website: www.sos.ms.gov. Those who wish to bid can view property descriptions, photos, and addresses on the website.
"We started with 510 parcels," Hosemann said. "We asked the mayor and the board of supervisors to sit down and tell us what they thought was the most likely to receive a bid."
Barry said they were careful to choose properties that were marketable.
Bids must be received by March 21.
"We give you two or three weeks on this," Hosemann said. "Most people who have an interest will do their work in the first week or so. We'll start getting those bids in about two weeks."
The complete process for bidding on property is explained on the SOS's website.