Thirty-one tax-foreclosed properties will be deeded to the county April 10 and sold as quickly as possible to get them back on the tax rolls, Grant County Assessor David Thunnell told the county court March 28.
The court approved Thunnell’s recommendation that the minimum bid for the properties should be 50 percent of their real market value. If all 31 properties sell at the minimum bid, the county would receive about $395,000, Thunnell said. The total in back taxes with interest owed on the properties is about $365,000, he said. Grant County Attorney Ron Yockim suggested holding an oral auction, Thunnell noted.
Some of the tax liabilities were very old, Grant County Judge Scott Myers pointed out, and some owners didn’t know about these properties. The county exhausted all remedies trying to track down owners, he said, adding that the real market value of one property was only $10.
A dozen trailer homes still sit on a foreclosed mobile home park property in Mt. Vernon with tenants who may need to be evicted, Myers later told the Eagle. He said some of those trailer homes didn’t have running water.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” he said.
Bob Crisler told the court a foreclosed house next to his in Prairie City posed a safety hazard, with wind blowing pieces of metal around. Thunnell, however, said that property had only recently received foreclosure judgment in circuit court and hadn’t gone through the two-year redemption period.
Thunnel said the foreclosure process could be hastened in some cases, and Myers noted that Prairie City could use its nuisance ordinances to deal with the home, which is considered an eyesore.
Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton suggested the court address how it will deal with liabilities incurred by taking ownership of foreclosed properties in the future.
In other county court news:
• The court agreed to table a motion to establish a natural resource adviser position after Commissioner Jim Hamsher said he wanted time to find a way to pay for the position using federal Secure Rural Schools or payment-in-lieu of taxes funding.
Budget constraints and political concerns were raised by court members at their March 14 meeting as reasons for delaying a decision on filling the proposed position. Nearly $50,000 exists in the current county budget for the position, Myers noted at the time, but he also expressed concern about how to continue funding the position.
Hamsher had agreed sustainability was an issue, but he made a motion that the court at least try filling the position for a year. Britton had raised concerns about the nature of the position and how it would be structured.
• The Grant County Fair Board recently approved a proposal to take over publishing the premium book for the Grant County Fair. The court approved a supplemental budget resolution that calls for $15,000 in ad revenue and $15,000 in materials and services expenses to publish the book.
Myers noted that the Blue Mountain Eagle had published the premium book for about 20 years. Hamsher said the fair board had invited the Eagle to attend their next meeting to discuss the matter further.
• A $2,511 annual lease with Michael Keerins was approved to store aggregate on his property near Izee.
• The court approved the Planning Department’s request to purchase additional computer software using funds from the $4,000 Grant Young Memorial Grant awarded to the county last fall.
• A request from the county library to purchase a $1,499 fireproof safe for valuables was approved by the court. The money was raised during a recent auction and was included in the donation line in the county’s budget.
• The court approved by proclamation that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The request was made by Tracey Blood, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Oregon.