County adds fee to tax deed process
The Pierce County Board voted last week to begin charging a $200 fee when the county treasurer starts the procedure to take property on which taxes haven't been paid.
The fee is intended to cover title company fees and other costs related to the tax deed process. It will be paid by the property owners if they pay off back taxes, or it could be recouped if the property is eventually taken by the county and sold by bid.
"We are very behind in the process," Treasurer Phyllis Beastrom told county board members Tuesday.
"We haven't done any for many years," Beastrom explained. She said the former corporation counsel wanted to take care of the tax deed process, but never had time to do it. The current corporation counsel wanted current policies and procedures in place before the treasurer's office took over the process.
"We do have procedures now, so we've started," said Beastrom. She has just sent 28 parcels to the title company to research for possible lien holders who must be notified.
Beastrom said she has attempted to reach the delinquent owners by phone and has contacted some, but some phones have been disconnected. Some of the owners have promised to pay and some have worked out payment plans.
"Some have actually told me to go ahead and take tax deed," she said. Those cases involve vacant land, small parcels developers didn't use.
Beastrom said she is working with two parcels whose delinquent taxes go back more than a decade, including one whose owner is paying $300 a month to get caught up with taxes from 1997 and 1998. The owner went through bankruptcy, but is current on recent year taxes, she said.
Beastrom said she just received the man's monthly $300 payment. Because of the amount of interest owed, only $126 of that was credited to principal.
"It does get to the point where the interest (owed) is more than the tax," she said.
For more please read the June 4 print version of the Herald.