County seeks back taxes in property sale

FRONT ROYAL – More than a dozen delinquent taxpayers can expect Warren County to try to sell off their properties on the courthouse steps Thursday.

The special commissioner’s sale of real estate for unpaid taxes takes place at the courthouse at noon.

J. Daniel Pond III serves as the special commissioner to conduct the sale on the county’s behalf. The county also contracts with the Pond Law Group to try and recoup unpaid taxes on real estate. An auctioneer will conduct the auction.

“The primary goal is to get the property back on the tax roles so that it’s generating income for the county,” Pond said Tuesday. “Hopefully it’s a wake-up call for taxpayers that have been kind of lackadaisical with paying their taxes that they see that the county is going to be aggressive with selling the properties, collecting the back taxes.”

The county treasurer’s office is trying to hold such sales more frequently in its efforts to collect revenue and return the properties to the tax roles, Pond said.

“The treasurer wants to be more aggressive with tax collection and so we’re helping her do that,” Pond said.

Most if not all the 15 properties up for sale remain undeveloped, Pond said. The owners have been delinquent in paying taxes owed on the properties “for quite some time,” Pond added. Lots are located in the subdivisions of High Knob, Shenandoah River Lakes, Shenandoah Farms, Blue Ridge Mountain Estates, Apple Mountain Lake and other areas.

“We’re trying to get some of the old properties that have been delinquent back on the tax roles in good standing with the county,” Pond said.

A sale price might reach high enough to pay off the taxes owed on the property, Pond said. Even if the price doesn’t cover the taxes in arrears, the county can write off the debt, Pond added. Localities can only collect up to 20 years of back taxes, Pond said.

The county advertised another set of 30 properties that will be sold at auction in the near future if the owners do not pay the taxes owed. Pond said the next set includes more residential properties that include houses. The auction of these properties likely won’t occur for several months. The law firm advertised the new set of properties in late April and owners have 30 days to respond to the notice.

Property will be sold “as is” for cash at the auction. Property will be conveyed by special warranty deed, free and clear of liens except for 2016 real estate taxes prorated to the date of sale. The circuit court must approve each sale.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com