PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Pike County Attorney Howard Keith Hall said Friday that his office has begun the process of filing as many as 4,000 lawsuits, seeking payment for delinquent taxes totaling millions of dollars and dating back as far as 20 years.
The lawsuits, Hall said, seek to enforce the liens created by law on the properties and ultimately to “sell the properties at the courthouse steps.”
“Most property taxes are collected well before we have to take this final step in the collection process, but still thousands of property taxes remain unpaid,” Hall said. “So it’s time we take this housecleaning measure.”
Hall said approximately 95 percent of Pike County residents pay their real property taxes while they are still under the Pike County Sheriff’s Office and before they are sent to Hall’s office so he can undertake the process of collection on behalf of the state.
Still more pay after the county attorney starts collection efforts and exerts required legal warnings and notices of the processes leading up to the ultimate filing of liens and subsequent foreclosure actions, according to Hall. Also, he said, many tax tickets are purchased by third party collection agencies which pay 100 percent of the value of the tax bill and make money from fees they collect when the property is ultimately sold.
All the lawsuits should be filed during the next few weeks and the land sales will possibly begin during the summer, Hall said.
According to Hall, the total value of the delinquent tickets is approximately $50 million, but he said that is an “exaggerated” figure because there are duplicates, as well as penalties, and interest and garbage bills attached. During the timeframe on which Hall’s office is focusing, he said, the county collected approximately $500 million in taxes.