Five properties at tax auction bring $61,000

Friday, December 3, 2010

Five of 10 properties available at a tax auction Tuesday in Marshall County Chancery Court bought about $61,000, according to the clerk and master who conducted the sale.

"I had one sell for $29,000, but not all of that will become public money," Clerk and Master Tommy Higdon said Wednesday about 10 acres on Hatchett Hollow Road purchased by Wayne Neese.

That's one indication of the bidding during the sale observed by Marshall County Property Tax Attorney Roger Brandon; "It didn't take long."

Bidding probably lasted 30 minutes and another half hour was needed to issue receipts, according to a court officer.

More than two dozen properties with delinquent taxes were advertised for sale so Lewisburg and the county might collect on those debts. Nearly half of the owners paid their bills before the auction was conducted.

As for the five properties for which no bid was received, Higdon said those "will become property of the city and/or the county. One just had county taxes due."

The red house on First Avenue North, so-called because of its painted brick and location, was not sold, Higdon said. It is the old McLean school that Lewisburg councilmen had debated. The question was whether the city should buy it at auction.

Ownership after one year passes -- to give the owner time to reclaim the property -- was one reason for buying the land and what's left of the brick schoolhouse. Ownership would sidestep issues that might be raised during discussions with the county over what's to be done with the jointly owned property.

Michelle Driver, who is believed to have addresses in Huntsville, Florence, Ala. and in Lincoln County, owns the house.

The woman has been in Lewisburg in recent months, according to discussion among councilmen. Odie Whitehead said she's changed her appearance.

As for the properties that did sell, Higdon said, the amount of money exceeding the tax lien and court costs would go to the former owner, or a mortgage holder. If nobody is found with a claim to the property - after a year - then the money exceeding taxes and costs "will go to the state of Tennessee Unclaimed Funds."

That state account exists to hold such funds. Another set of advertisements would be purchased to sell the properties.

Some properties were seen as too risky for purchase, according to Wilford "Spider" Wentzel, one of the people who attended the auction.

"We had 7-8 that we had to pull because there was an IRS lien," Higdon said. "They will be advertised in a later sale once the IRS is finished with them."

Brandon, the county's tax attorney said, "We had a good sale. It brought what was owed and then some."