WALKER - During the economic downturn, tax forfeitures have not increased in Cass County, but the number of property foreclosures has.
Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson reported Tuesday to the county board that property tax forfeitures actually were slightly worse following the 2000 recession than in the last two years.
The county published notices of tax forfeiture on 101 properties in 2000, 89 in 2001 and 92 in 2002, but published only 78 such notices in 2007 and 57 in 2008. The actual number of properties that forfeited was 27 in 2000, 39 in 2001 and 23 in 2002, compared with seven in 2007 and 12 in 2008.
Initially, the county publishes a list of about 600 to 800 delinquent properties in any given year. By the time most of those people pay their back taxes with the penalties and interest due on them, Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe said the county actually collects enough to offset the loss from the few properties that actually do go into forfeiture.
Many delinquent properties are just bare land with no buildings on them, according to Anderson.
Assessor Steve Kuha reported the number of Cass properties going into foreclosure increased from 65 in 2006 to 113 in 2007 (a 74 percent rise) and to 140 in 2008 (a 23 percent rise). These figures include contracts for deed as well and mortgages with financial institutions.
Most of the foreclosed properties do include a residential or commercial building.
There were 33 homesteads forfeited in 2006, 60 in 2007 and 69 in 2008. Non-homesteaded residences and cabins forfeiting in 2006 were 23, in 2007 were 47 and in 2008 were 62. Only one to three agricultural properties have forfeited each year. Only five to seven commercial properties forfeited.
The number of forfeiting lakeshore properties has risen significantly from 13 in 2006 to 18 in 2007 and 37 in 2008.
The number of $1,000,000 homes forfeiting jumped from one each in 2006 and 2007 to four in 2008. All four carried mortgages for more than $1,000,000.
Forfeitures were scattered throughout the county, but Sylvan Township had the highest number at 14, followed by 10 in Lake Shore and seven each in Shingobee and Pine River townships.
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