The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 1, 2012

Cherokee County sells properties with delinquent taxes

Owners of properties were behind on taxes at least three years

COLUMBUS, Kan. — Cherokee County government increased its revenue by $31,875 on Wednesday, as 81 properties on which the property taxes are more than three years delinquent were sold.

“Open your billfolds and let the money flow free,” said Columbus auctioneer Delbert Rowden at the start of the sale.

Louis Miller, of McCune, bought a piece of land as he was waiting in line to pay and leave. “That was a joke,” he said after buying the land for $10.

“That property is about 2 feet wide and 480 feet long,” he said. “It will give me a place to go walking in the evening, if I want to.”

Besides the strip of land in Weir, he bought five other properties, spending around $600 total.

“You can buy vacant property, just speculation,” he said. “You can make a little money.”

He said he also participated in a property sale in June 2011.

Rowden’s interaction with the bidders provided some entertainment, especially with one of the most active bidders, Rocky Hall, of Baxter Springs. Hall had agreed to bid $50 on properties when Rowden couldn’t get any other starting bids. He ended up with eight properties at that price.

At one point, Hall nodded his head, apparently unintentionally buying a property for $150.

“Oh, great,” he said.

“Don’t nod your head if you ain’t bidding,” Rowden said.

At another time, Hall declined to bid.

“I don’t want it,” Hall said.

“There’s gold under it,” Rowden countered.

Hall was on his cellphone frequently with his business partner at HMB Plumbing. They also have an auto repair shop. He was on the phone when he bought one of his $50 properties.

“We’re just trying to clean up the town a little bit,” Hall said outside the courtroom where the sale was held. He said some lots would be suitable for houses.

He said he spent around $1,500 on 13 properties, but he had fun.

“I was having a blast,” he said.

County Commissioner Pat Collins said the sale placed the properties back on the tax rolls, and that extensive research by county counselor Kevin Cure and other county personnel has helped clear the titles on dozens of properties. Cure said one more sale will be needed.

“Thank you all for coming out and supporting the county, guys,” Rowden said at the conclusion of the sale.

High and low

THE HIGHEST PRICE fetched at the sale for a piece of property was $4,500. The lowest price was $10.

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