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Tax sale clears books
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The 2012 Barton County Tax Sale is in the books, and  County Treasurer Kevin Wondra told the County Commission Monday morning the annual event was a success.
The sale was held last Tuesday at the courthouse with commissioner Kenny Schremmer serving as auctioneer.  At the time of the sale, there were 15 properties up for bid, all of which sold.
The County collected $20,555 plus $120 in filing fees. Of that, Wondra said $6,993.54 may be returned as an overages (money collected above the property values) to those with an interest in the properties sold.   
“It was the culmination of a year-long process,” Wondra said. In January, there were 345 tracts that met the criteria for the sale (having three years of back taxes owed).
Many of those were “abstracted,” meaning background work was done and all those with an interest in the property were contacted, and this lead to 147 being removed from the list as owners came forward. So, by March, there were 91 remaining.
Between March and the redemption deadline this past Tuesday, another 76 were cleared off the books. This left 15, including one lot that didn’t sell in last year’s sale.
But, the benefit of the sale isn’t solely in the money generated, said County Administrator Richard Boeckman. “It is in the redemptions” and the clearing of the properties off the county books.
“I think it is a very worthwhile effort,” Wondra said. It is a lot of work that involves multiple departments who handle such details as making visits, making phone calls and updating the website.
The sale does generate enough revenue to cover the taxes owned and costs.
Boeckman said he’s been around for 22 tax sales and has seen the number of tracts up for sale decline. In the beginning, there were over 500.
Now, Wondra said, they are beginning the work on the 2013 sale. They already have over 400 tracts that qualify.