Hempstead County coffers got a hefty boost recently with the presentation by Arkansas Land Commissioner John Thurston of a check for 2012 delinquent real estate turnback monies.
Thurston presented the check for $230,929.25 to county officials at the Hempstead County Courthouse in a demonstration of the redemption process for real estate properties in Arkansas.
“Once properties are redeemed by the original owner or sold at public auction, the funds collected are forwarded to the county where the property is located one year after the collection date,” Thurston explained.
Owners of properties upon which delinquent taxes have not been settled are encouraged by Thurston's office to redeem the properties prior to their being offered for sale by the state. Thurston's office will conduct the 2013 tax delinquent properties auction at the Hempstead County Courthouse on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Property owners who wish to redeem properties from tax sale must contact Thurston's office to request redemption forms, then pay all delinquent taxes, penalties and interest due, he said.
Prospective buyers of tax delinquent properties may obtain a list of properties for sale and sale procedures by contacting the Land Commissioner's Office at 501-324-9422, or go to www.cosl.org online for sale information, Thurston said.
“The good news is that most of the revenue we collect is through the redemption of delinquent parcels by the original owners,” he said. “Property taxes play a vital role in the stability of county revenues.”
That point was illustrated locally when Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana and its parent company, IASIS Financial, agreed to pay the delinquent property taxes of the former Medical Park Hospital in 2012. The prior ownership of the hospital had allowed the hospital campus and offices to go into delinquency for more than $400,000 in taxes, penalties and interest before Wadley intervened to buy the assets of the hospital.
Thurston said the hospital property had been scheduled for tax sale last year on taxes delinquent since 2007, but the Wadley intervention forestalled the sale.
“Public schools and county services depend on real estate tax dollars to aid in funding their programs,” Thurston said.
“Without these funds, our communities may miss out on essential programs and growth.”
Among the 75 counties in Arkansas, Thurston's offices distributed some $21 million from delinquent property tax collections in 2012 turnbacks.