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Supervisors move tax sales online

Pearl River County’s Emergency Operations Center is keeping an eye on the Pearl River due to the high water levels.

Emergency Operations Manager Danny Manley informed the county’s Board of Supervisors during their regular meeting Wednesday that the latest projected crest for the Pearl River is for Tuesday, and is expected to crest at 22.5 feet. In 2016, flooding reached 22.75 feet, which flooded some homes, but the water is not expected to reach those 2016 levels, said Manley.

Although roads near Walkiah Bluff may flood, the homes there are elevated, and Manley said the county does not anticipate needing to conduct rescue operations. Still, high water vehicles, along with rescue boats and swift water technicians are all on standby. If the access road by Walkiah Bluff becomes flooded, the county will have perform rescue operations, said Manley, but the access road is not expected to flood and the EOC does not anticipate needing help from the state.

In a separate matter, Pearl River County’s 2020 tax sale will be moving online.

The Board approved a one-year contract with GovEase Auction LLC to run the county tax sale via a website instead of in person. Tax Assessor Gary Beech proposed moving to an online sale.

During tax sale, bidders sometimes overbid, and the county is then able to place the overbid amount in the general fund, said Beech. GovEase Auction tries to increase the percentage of that overbid by running the sale online, which makes it easier for more bidders to participate, said David Myers, VP of business development for GovEase Auction.

The company typically is able to increase the overbid for counties to 12 or 14 percent, said Myers, while current Pearl River County tax sales averaged an overbid of 10 percent. In 2018 the tax sale was for $2.6 million, said Beech and the overbid amount was $210,000.

The company would take 1.25 percent of the total tax sale as payment, if there is overbid available. Based on the 2018 tax sale, the company would be paid an estimated $32,640, said Beech. By statute, the company is not allowed to be paid for tax sale services from the general fund and can only be paid out of excess funds, so if there is no overbid, the company will provide its services to the county free of charge, said Myers.

The company began in 2016 in Madison and Lee Counties, said Myers, and currently provides tax sale services to more than 60 counties in the state. The majority of bidders it sees are based in Mississippi, said Myers.

To sign up, bidders can be required to upload a letter of credit, a county administrator must approve the bidder for the auction and can assign how much the bidder is able to spend. The company typically has pushback from local bidders, said Myers, but tries to retain them, in part by working with the county to make computers available the day of the tax sale for those without Internet access.