A public auction for tax-delinquent land in Sebastian and Crawford counties has been set for April, according the Commissioner of State Lands Office.
The sale will be April 2 at the Holiday Inn City Center in Fort Smith, 700 Rogers Ave. The sale of the Sebastian County parcels starts at 10 a.m., with registration at 9:30 a.m. The Crawford County lands sale will start at 2 p.m.
Sales also are planned for Logan County on April 3, for Polk County in August, and for Franklin and Johnson counties in September.
According to the state office’s Public Auction Catalog updated Friday, about 100 Sebastian County and about 135 Crawford County properties are slated to hit the auction block — unless their owners redeem them by paying the delinquent taxes.
According to state law, owners of tax-delinquent properties sold at auction have 10 days to redeem the property following the sale. Property taxes are due by Oct. 15 each year. According to the catalog, the local overdue tax amounts range from $166 to $43,221. The catalog is available online at www.cosl.org, or in print form by mail.
Recent legislation has affected the procedures for the sale of tax-delinquent properties, and purchasers are encouraged to review the changes prior to the auction dates, according the lands office.
Sebastian County Assessor Becky Yandell said there are many reasons, other than financial hardship, why people don’t pay their property taxes.
"It could be that it is a useless piece of land to them, or maybe they had it left to them and they don’t care about it," Yandell said. "There could be a million other reasons; sometimes they just don’t pay."
Local assessors urge those interested in purchasing property to do their homework prior to the auction.
"It’s important do research on the property beforehand and be sure and see how big the lot size is," Yandell said. "Sometimes at these auctions it may be an acre or a strip of three or four feet, or the land could be located in a floodplain, so it’s imperative to do your homework beforehand."
Crawford County Assessor Ronnie Dale encouraged potential buyers to research a parcel to see what liens or taxes may be attached to the property for which a new owner would be responsible.
"It’s just like any other auction, where you bid on a something you’re interested in," Dale said. "The trick with land auctions is, if there is an interested party on the property, for example a bank, if they have a loan against the property, you’d be responsible for whatever else is owed. We have papers for each individual parcel at my office and we could pull up the parcel number on our mapping system and show you the outline of the property, and you could view the parcel information to make sure of what you’re buying."
Dale said the county and the state lands commission office will work with property owners to avoid having to advertise the property for auction.
"We’re not out here trying to take people’s property from them and we’ll try to work with them, but sometimes it can’t be worked out and the law is the law at that point," Dale said.
Properties not sold at auction may be offered for negotiated sale.
Yandell reminds those interested in purchasing that parcels must be paid for on the day of the auction and that the first $100 must be paid in cash.