County Tweaks Tax Foreclosure Policy

For the first time since 2001, County Commissioners have tweaked their Tax Foreclosure Policy.  In March 2001, a policy was put into place to more aggressively deal with collecting delinquent property taxes from landowners.  The policy was adopted 18 years ago when other enforcement measures, like garnishment and bank attachments, had not worked.

Since the policy was adopted many years ago, the backlog of delinquent taxpayers has cleared. However, a recent review found some revisions to the Foreclosure Policy were necessary.

Johnston County Attorney Jennifer Slusser said, “Johnston County taxpayers and the tax office have done an excellent job through the years ensuring that property taxes that are owed get paid.  Foreclosure is used as a last resort and is a rare occurrence.  We reviewed the tax foreclosure policy as part of a routine policy review and realized some small revisions were necessary to account for the current status of foreclosures and to provide fair and equitable payments to the attorneys we hire to assist with the process.”

The policy will continue to go after delinquent accounts with those accounts having the oldest delinquencies being given the highest priority, regardless of the amount due.

Changes include allowing the County Attorney to work with the County Tax Collector to help prioritize accounts to file foreclosures.   The County can still retain outside counsel to handle foreclosure cases however the County has changed the fees outside attorneys are reimbursed.

Previously, attorneys were given 25% of the total tax due on each account collected.  Now, attorneys will be paid $750 for the first parcel to be foreclosed and $250 for each additional parcel owned by the same taxpayer.  Attorneys will also be paid a 5% commission on the sale of any parcel sold at foreclosure.  That percentage is set by state statute.

The County Attorney and attorney handling the foreclosure has the authority to settle any legal action with approval of the Tax Collector and County Manager. However, no settlement can be made for less than the full amount of taxes owed or $250.00 whichever is less, once a foreclosure lawsuit has been filed.