County to seize mobile homes and sell at auction

Published 1:35 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trying to find a way to motivate people who owe back taxes on their mobile homes to pay up, Pearl River County Tax Assessor Gary Beach wants the county to start to foreclose on the homes and sell them at auction.

“We have 1,100 delinquent mobile homes that instead of turning over to a collection company we are going to seize and claim and sell on the steps of the county courthouse,” Beach said at Monday’s Pearl River County Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

Beach said that in the past, the county had turned the delinquent tax bills over to a collection company, but that they had little in the way of results. “Lamar County has been using this method (of seizure), and where they now have only two or four a year we have 1,100,” he said.

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Noting that a solid plan on how to carry out the change in enforcement of delinquent mobile home taxes still needed to be tweaked, Beach said that someone would have to go to each structure and verify that it is still there, still the same one registered with the county, and whether or not it was occupied.

“We need to go out to each mobile home and look at them and take a picture of it,” said Beach, who said that in the last couple of years, his office had begun photographing each new registration, as well as questionable Homestead Exemption filings.

“Our goal is to get photos (of all mobile homes), but we’re not quite there yet,” said Beach, adding that street scenes were equally important in identifying the mobile homes.

For now, he said, his office would be using the physical descriptions originally filed with the mobile homes for comparison. “We will match them up with the recorded size and color,” he said, adding that once it has been determined that a mobile home still is on the property, an intent to seize letter would be sen eithert by certified mail or hand delivered.

Cautioning Beach, board of supervisor attorney Joe Montgomery, said he needed to read the state statute on the proper procedure of seizing personal property so that the county would be in line with the law.

“What worries me about the yellow tape and certified letters is that the owner of the trailer may not have lived there for years,” said Montgomery. “We need to make sure we give notice to the person who the statute says we need to notify.”

Beach, who said more than half of the delinquent taxes were from multiple years, estimated that the older mobile homes would bring in less than $50, but that many could fetch as high as $300.

“So, we’re talking about some serious money,” said District three supervisor Hudson Holliday.

Beach said he hoped that by summer the seizures could be completed. “It is different from land. When you sell (seized land) they have two years to redeem it, but with these, when they are sold, they are sold,” said Beach.