County Approves Tax Certificate Moratorium
By Curt Nettinga
Beginning nearly immediately, and continuing through the 2015 property tax year, Fall River County will not sell delinquent property tax certificates to any third-party individual or companies.
The two-year moratorium, which was approved unanimously by the Fall River County Commission at its Oct. 2 meeting, means that the practice of selling tax certificates for property with current back taxes will not be sold, as has been the practice in the past, but will instead be held by the county.
In addition, those properties that currently have tax certificates that are unsold will also be kept in house.
County treasurer Kelly Rhoe had requested a four-year moratorium to allow her office to continue to investigate and correct any problems with prior tax sale certificates. During the moratorium, only those property owners would be allowed to redeem the certificates.
At some point, we mistakenly sold one certificate that we should not have,” Rhoe said. “I was contacting the owner and was attempting to collect an amount far more than what was owed.
The Commission cut the time frame in half and added the stipulation that current tax certificates would be included as well. Rhoe said that there are still six certificates from 2012 remaining unsold and 13 from 2013, all of which will immediately be covered by the moratorium.
Chairman Mike Ortner requested that the action be done as an emergency measure, as it would allow the treasurer to better do her job. That means that instead of going into effect 20 days after publication, the new directive will be active when published.
The commission voted to purchase two sizeable pieces of equipment as well – one road grader and one new pickup.
Highway Superintendent Randy Seiler brought two road grader quotes to the commission; a 2014 John Deere for $277,500 and a 2015 Caterpillar for $279,900. Seiler said he really didn’t have a preference. Both come with a seven-year buy back, but purchasing a ripper and a lift group for the Cat would push the difference to nearly $14,000.
The John Deere was used in Sioux Falls for the city’s snow removal, a program from which the county has looked at purchasing graders before. After discussion and weighing the merits of depreciation and maintenance, the commission voted 3-1 to purchase the Caterpillar grader.
A pickup will be purchased for Emergency Manager Frank Maynard. Two bids were received – from GMC of Chadron and from Rapid Chevrolet. After conferring with the bidding parties on issues that were unclear from the bids, the commission approved the purchase for a 2015 Chevy 1500 crew-cab from Rapid Chevrolet, for a total of $32,460.
The commission held a hearing for omitted properties from the taxable-in-14,payable-in-15 rolls, many of which were sold at the county sale in February. Those properties, which had been owned by the county, were tax exempt at the time and, since they are now privately owned, are now back on the tax rolls.
A total of 14 properties were added at corrected values, including three Edgemont properties from which the new owners requested that the building values be removed, as the buildings were in disrepair.
In other action, the commission:
Approved Seiler to advertise for a highway worker, to fill a spot for a resigning employee.
Approved a measure that would allow the Register of Deeds to review legal descriptions of plats prior to commission action.
Denied a request for a delinquent tax agreement with Mary Ann Holloway-Crowe.
Approved a pipeline easement for Fall River Water Users District to cross a road; a pipeline easement for Southern Black Hills Water for the ditch right-of-way and under-road boring and an approach permit.
Approved a copier lease contract for the Director of Equalization office.