(Posted March 2, 2020)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Madison County Treasurer’s Office is making a significant dent in the amount of back real estate taxes owed to the county.
“Delinquency is the lowest it’s every been since I’ve been here,” said Treasurer Donna Landis, who has worked for the office for more than 36 years.
Two years ago, Landis teamed up with Madison County Prosecutor Stephen J. Pronai. They met with attorneys and started conducting tax foreclosures on properties where delinquent taxes are owed.
“It had been done before but wasn’t done aggressively,” Landis said.
Two years ago, the amount of delinquent taxes owed to the county was more than $1 million. Now, it’s $717,000.
Working with local law counsel, Landis’s office launches four tax foreclosure cases each month. Some cases take longer than others. Sometimes, it’s difficult to locate the responsible party; other times the responsible party is deceased, Landis said. Despite these challenges, progress has been made.
“As far as big delinquencies, those are few and far between now,” she said.
The Treasurer’s Office is starting to take the same approach with mobile home properties, conducting tax foreclosures where delinquent taxes are owed. The total amount of delinquencies in this category is $90,000.
“The mobile home parks are working well with us,” Landis said.
She noted that her office can offer payment plans for those who are behind on paying their taxes. The options are to spread payments over 2.5 years or five years.
“If you’re worried you are going to be foreclosed on, you’ve got to call me. If you make effort to get it taken care of, I will make my effort to help you,” Landis said.
In other tax collection news, Landis reported that her office just finished real estate tax collection for the first half of 2019, payable in 2020.
“We’re up $1.3 million from last year at the same time, which is remarkable,” she said. “We hit the $30 million mark and have never hit the $30 million mark for the first half.”
The county usually collects $44 million a year in real estate taxes.
Landis said the first-half collections are always strong because some property owners pay for the full year. She said she does not know why first-half collections were so much higher this time around.
For more information about tax collection and payment plan options for delinquent taxes, call the Madison County Treasurer’s Office at (740) 852-1936.