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Patrick Springer, Published November 16 2010

Cass County to sell forfeited property to recoup back taxes

Cass County will sell about 35 forfeited properties today to try to recoup roughly $200,000 owed in back taxes.

This year’s sale, larger than usual because the county is selling three years’ worth of tax-delinquent properties, will take place in the commission chamber in the county courthouse.

About half a dozen of the properties are homes, although the number could decline to four through redemptions as back taxes are paid at the last minute, said county Auditor Mike Montplaisir, who is handling the sale.

Many of the rest are lots that didn’t work as development projects, including several near the old stockyards in West Fargo.

Several properties once listed for forfeiture sale have been redeemed, and Montplaisir said the county is working with owners who are trying to pay the owed taxes.

“Some of those will be redeemed,” he said. In one case, for example, a woman who lives in Florida is working with a bank to try to keep a property she owns.

“The law bends over backwards to protect the homeowner,” Montplaisir said.

This year is the first, however, that a new state law allows property owners three years, instead of five, to pay delinquent taxes to avoid forfeiture.

The county’s sale price is based on recouping back taxes and special assessments, plus collecting for the next tax year.

“All we’re trying to do is get the taxes out of it,” Montplaisir said. “We’re not looking to make a profit.”

The forfeiture list, available online, lists addresses and legal descriptions of the properties for sale, as well as the county’s minimum sale price.

Properties that aren’t sold at the auction can be held for sale the following year, but sometimes are acquired by the city for rehabilitation, Montplaisir said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522