Public auctions putting property back on Osage County’s tax rolls

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Recent public auctions of tax-delinquent properties have brought a windfall of real-estate revenue for Osage County.

The transactions should also provide ongoing benefits for county citizens by putting those properties back on the tax rolls.

During the past five weekly Osage County Commission meetings, 50 parcels of land have been sold — with Commission Chairman Scott Hilton serving as the “Monday-morning Colonel” who conducts the auctions.

Osage County Treasurer Sally Hulse explained that the weekly sales involve property that has come into the county’s possession due to four-year delinquencies on tax payments. Each June, the treasurer’s office conducts a sale of the tax properties from locations all around the county.

“We had approximately 120 properties that were not sold in June,” Hulse said. “What we’re attempting to do is make people aware that they (the properties) are available so we can get them back on the (tax) rolls.”

The auction-type process is set in motion when a bid is placed on a parcel included on the tax-property list, which has previously appeared in legal notices and is available to peruse at the treasurer’s 611 Grandview Ave. office.

Once a bid is placed for a piece of property (with certain fees included), the proposed sale is advertised and then placed on the county sale block. When the designated land is presented at the meeting, the total bid amounts are announced by the treasurer (or her designated representative). Hilton then opens the process to the public, unless or until no higher bids are received.

From the time an initial bid is placed with the treasurer’s office, it generally takes around four weeks for one of the properties to appear on the commission’s agenda. Nine parcels were auctioned at the initial offering Sept. 29. Two weeks ago, the sale of 21 properties — including 19 in the Old Town section of Pawhuska that were purchased by the Osage Nation — doubled the tax-delinquent sales total.

On Monday, eight more recorded sales included a contested parcel that was reported to be a former hospital site on South Fourth Street in Fairfax. From an original bid of $100 (with advertising and other fees totalling another $115.54) the two-person bidding war boosted the final amount to $4,700. (Of the 50 auctioned parcels, about 20 original bids have been contested.)

“We’re certainly grateful to the people who are helping us get these properties back on the county tax rolls,” Hilton said. “They’re helping us return this land to productive use — if they get a bargain, it’s still kind of a win-win deal.”