If the economy is improving, Sue Orth hasn't seen it.
“It's just like last year, and that tells me things are not getting better. People are still hurting,” said the Allen County Treasurer, who will host the county's annual tax sale next month – an event that as of now includes 1,407 properties.
Taxes on properties in this year's Sept. 12 sale have not been paid since at least spring 2011, Orth said, and 4,978 parcels were originally eligible. That's slightly fewer than last year, when owners of 5,414 properties were notified. Those notifications reduced this year's delinquencies to 1,675 by June 30 compared to 1,516 at that time in 2011, when 645 properties remained delinquent by the time of the sale in October.
Overdue taxes on this year's properties total about $3.08 million.
Bidders at the sale can claim any property by paying at least the taxes owed plus about $440 to cover the county's costs. The original owner then has up to a year to keep the property by repaying the tax and penalties, some of which goes to the sale bidder. The county then distributes the proceeds to various governmental units.
Although failure to pat taxes does not result in a property's immediate inclusion in the sale, Orth said prompt payment is important.
“I've been stressing that you should treat your taxes like you do your mortgage. If you don't pay, you just fall further behind,” Orth said. Late payments can result in penalties of 10 percent, she added.