PI has plenty of tax-foreclosed homes still to sell

ROGERS CITY – Presque Isle County still has more than 100 unsold, tax-foreclosed lots after selling some at auction earlier this month.

Treasurer Bridget LaLonde told the county board of commissioners her office is still trying to sell foreclosed land that didn’t sell last year. Of the 145 properties available at an Aug. 17 auction, 34 sold, most at or slightly above the minimum bid. The majority of these lots are vacant land in the Grand Lake subdivision. Now, LaLonde wants to work with the Presque Isle Harbor Association to see what can be done with the land to make it more enticing to buyers.

Of the 145 properties that went to auction, 77 were leftovers from last year, including 17 of the 34 that sold, LaLonde said after the meeting. That means they didn’t sell either for the minimum bid in 2012, or at a second auction with no minimum. The county typically sells all its tax-foreclosed properties at auction, and last year was the first time in decades it didn’t.

“This is the first time we have had properties held over from more than one year, so we’re learning the process on that,” she said.

LaLonde wants to look into whether some of these lots can be combined, rezoned or both, she said. She wants to work within PIHA’s bylaws to find ways to make the land more salable.

Board Chairman Carl Altman said he’s disappointed the county wasn’t able to sell more lots, and thinks some buyers might be more willing if smaller parcels were joined into one.

The county took in $68,080, minus fees, for the properties it sold, LaLonde said. Some of that will go to Title-Check, LLC, a company that holds public land auctions for numerous Michigan counties. The next auction is set for Sept. 30 at the Cheboygan County Courthouse.

Properties go into tax foreclosure after three years of nonpayment, according to LaLonde. Local governments have a right of first refusal, where they can purchase these foreclosed properties within their boundaries. From there, the property goes to two auctions, one with a minimum bid and one without. Any proceeds go toward the delinquent taxes for these properties. Those that don’t sell at either auction can be purchased for the minimum bid price by local governments; otherwise, they’re absorbed by the county.

In other business:

  • board members approved spending around $2,000 to resolve a grounding issue with the Presque Isle County Sheriff Department’s radio tower in Moltke Township. Commissioner Mike Darga said the tower has a history of lightning strikes, and is poorly grounded.
  • Sheriff Bob Paschke said the county’s new inmate health care program is working smoothly, and the county should realize savings on prescription medications and medical transportation in the long run.
  • Ed LaFramboise, Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health executive director, gave an annual report, highlighting changes with the four-county agency over the past year. It’s now part of Northern Michigan Regional Entity, and several agencies across the state have consolidated. With the expansion of Medicaid in Michigan, around 5,000 Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency and Presque Isle residents will be eligible, of which five to 10 percent could use mental health services.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.