Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
The Secretary of State’s Office received 183 bids on Thursday to purchase 103 parcels of tax forfeited properties in Meridian and Lauderdale County.
Of the tax forfeited property successfully purchased by bid, the 62 parcels located inside the city of Meridian are valued at $369,180 and the 41 in Lauderdale County at almost $80,000, according to a press release from the Secretary of State's Office. Winning bids for the city parcels total almost $43,000 and the county parcels sold for almost $20,000.
“This was an exceptional response to our effort to return money to the taxpayers of Mississippi and to get these properties back into private hands,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Tax forfeited properties are a blight on the community. Returning these properties to private taxpaying ownership also cleans up our neighborhoods and reduces the opportunity for crime.”
The tax forfeited properties were offered for purchase by the Secretary of State’s Office in cooperation with the city of Meridian and the Board of Supervisors for Lauderdale County. The 159 parcels had been advertised for bid since Feb. 28 and sealed offers were due by noon Thursday.
With a total of 510 tax forfeited parcels valued at $2.7 million, Lauderdale County is ranked No. 7 in the state for the number of tax forfeited parcels, the press release states.
“I am pleased with the response from Meridian and Lauderdale County residents to invest in their community,” Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry was quoted as saying in the press release. “This is a good example of how city, county and state officials can work together to achieve a common goal. I will continue to work to keep Meridian moving forward.”
Currently, the Secretary of State’s Office holds more than an estimated $66.2 million in property forfeited to the State of Mississippi for non-payment of ad valorem taxes, officials said. The Secretary of State’s Office began an aggressive marketing campaign in 2012 to return these properties to private taxpaying ownership.
"The goal of the Secretary of State’s Office is to work with local governments to determine which properties may be marketed for private ownership, and which properties could be transferred to local governments for public use," the press release states. "Returning these lands to private ownership puts them back on the local tax rolls, generating much needed revenue for our schools and our local governments."
Successful bidders will be notified by the Secretary of State’s Office. Payment of the bid amount must be made within 15 days of notification. All sales are subject to the approval of Gov. Phil Bryant, officials said. Parcels are sold on an “as is” basis. All sales are final, and no refunds will be made, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
No more than 160 acres may be purchased by one person within one year.
To learn more on obtaining tax forfeited properties, visit the Secretary of State’s website at: http://www.sos.ms.gov/PublicLands.