CROWN POINT | Delinquent taxpayers beware.
Lake County commissioners are preparing to sell more than 13,500 real estate parcels up for public auction this year to recover millions of dollars in unpaid property taxes.
The Board of Commissioners have scheduled two tax sales, planned to take place April 23 to 25 and July 23 to 25 at the Sydney Garner Auditorium in the Lake County Government Complex, 2293 N. Main St.
State law permits Indiana counties to recover unpaid taxes by taking ownership of the land and buildings on which the tax is due and selling them to the highest bidder.
The legal notice, published Wednesday in The Times, indicates 80 percent of the properties on the auction block are in the depressed city of Gary. Hundreds more are in Cedar Lake, East Chicago, Hammond and Lake Station.
There is a scattering of other delinquent properties in Crown Point, Hobart, Lowell, Merrillville, New Chicago, St. John and Schneider.
The sales reduce the burden of supporting local government on law-abiding property owners by prompting the tardy to settle up to avoid losing their property. The sales also generate millions of dollars more from real estate speculators buying the remaining parcels on offer.
However, tax sales may have a disastrous result. Dolores Pittman, of Cedar Lake, is fighting eviction from her home of 54 years after commissioners inadvertently sold the land beneath it in their 2009 tax sale to a Porter County man for $43.
She wasn't given notice of the sale until the eviction process, which is on hold because of litigation.
"I'm in limbo," Pittman said.