While some of the county's highest delinquent property tax bills from 2008-10 have been paid since early July, the Loudon County Clerk and Master's Office still had more than 230 parcels on the books as of Monday for an estimated total of $398,814.
Earlier this year, the News-Herald identified eight of the highest bills that were due for those three years. Of those, only BJET Corporation, Tellico Lake Properties and Landview GP still owed money.
Tennessee-based BJET currently owes an estimated $127,915, while Landview has a tab of $98,921. Tellico Lake Properties owes about $42,860.
Clerk and Master Fred Chaney said the county sold between 30-40 properties during its last public auction in October 2010. He said he thought payments would come in regularly before the next sale, which is set for Oct. 22 at the courthouse.
"We were kind of thinking it would be fairly steady between now and the sale date, but you just never know," Chaney said. "We would hope that everybody would come in and pay, but I don't think it's going to happen."
He said his office attempts to alert residents and companies of their tax obligations using numerous channels.
"We have to have service on them some way," Chaney said, noting that residents are asked to acknowledge that they have received the certified letter from his office. "Either they've signed for that or it's been served by a sheriff's deputy or it's been run as a non-resident notice in the News-Herald, so they should be aware of it very well."
Village properties on hold More than 200 pieces of delinquent properties in Tellico Village were removed from the upcoming tax sale at the courthouse at the request of Loudon County Mayor Estelle Herron and county commission to avoid having to pay Property Owners Association assessment fees in the event the county took ownership of those lots.
Chaney said the Tellico properties will remain on the county rolls until the next public auction.
Property tax collections in surrounding counties appear to be spotty as well, with some clerk and masters selling 100 or more properties at the courthouse, while others only had a handful up for auction.
Monroe County Clerk and Master Teresa Choate said her county sold 12 pieces of property during its last auction in May 2011.
"We have a pretty good rate of being able to contact property owners to get them paid," Choate said. "A lot of them were new owner takeovers, and they're not aware that the taxes were not paid."
The county was preparing to put its 2008 delinquent properties up for sale, Choate said, noting that Monroe has about 300 parcels on the books from 2008 and all previous years.
"We are still collecting as a matter of fact; we're collecting pretty good right," Choate said.
Roane County's last public sale took place in March, with about 100 properties on the auction block. Clerk and Master Shannon Conley said 100 properties were about average for a tax sale in Roane.
"We start out anywhere from 1,500-plus, and then going through the process of elimination with bankruptcy or being paid, we wind it down," Conley said.
She said the process of collections in Roane is similar to that of Loudon County.
"I don't personally make phone calls," Conley said. "What we do is our first notification is certified mail, and then if we're not successful, we send someone out from the sheriff's office to try to locate those individuals, and if we're not successful, the last route is the publication."
Stephen Ogle, Clerk and Master in Blount County, said while his county sold 38 properties in March 2011, that number was up to 115 this year.
He said he couldn't put a finger on why the county experienced such a variance in the number of properties that went up for sale.
"It varies from year to year," Ogle said. "It was 2011 that we had almost 700 that went into the tax sale case, and then the sale this year, we ended up having almost twice that. I can't put a reason to it why people get their taxes paid and some years they don't."
In Loudon, BJET Corporation and Landview GP still owed money on scores of properties. Ogle said Blount County sees a mixture of taxes owed by LLCs and by individual property owners.
"I kind of suspect that y'all see more of the LLCs because of the lake," Ogle said. "We're on the same lake, but we don't have a bunch of developers out there developing, and y'all have had like Rarity Bay and things like that, and that in itself would generate Lord knows how many LLCs."
Chaney said his office would begin taking bids on the first piece of property at 10 a.m. Oct. 22 in Loudon. He said the auction could take two hours or more.
"It's going to depend on how many parcels we have," Chaney said. "Usually, it takes anywhere from an hour, 1 1/2, maybe two hours, but if we have a lot of parcels, it's going to take longer."