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story.lead_photo.caption Attendees at the June 6 Columbia County delinquent tax auction (pictured) hunt for land deals as they try to outbid one another. Official figures were released Monday for the sale. In the report, State Land Commissioner John Thurston’s office stated that $31,469 was netted from the local auction. - Photo by J.D. Bailey

As reported last week in the Banner-News, most land items at the June 6 tax delinquent auction at Pine Street’s City Council Chambers went unsold, with many of the more valuable parcels having been paid for in the days leading up to the auction. But official statistics for the sale were not yet released.

On Monday, the State Land Commissioner’s Office issued official monetary tallies for the sale. In total, the auction netted $31,469.

The auction drew 24 bidders and sold 18 parcels for county and state governments, according to the release.

“We auction only a small percentage of parcels that are certified to the office,” said State Land Commissioner John Thurston. “In most cases, the original owner redeems the delinquent property by paying the back taxes.”

That was certainly the case for Columbia County, as most of the more desirable parcels were marked as “not for sale” as last Wednesday’s auction commenced. Only one tax delinquent auction is scheduled each year for each county, according to the state.

Upon the sale of tax-delinquent property, the Commissioner issues a limited warranty deed to the highest bidder, according to the state. Property redemption is also the preferred method of disposing of tax-delinquent lands, in order for local governments to regain property tax revenues.

“Last year, we returned more than $17 million to school districts and county governments,” Thurston said. “Columbia County received more than $65,000 of that amount. This is an important process, because it provides stable revenue for necessary services including public schools.”

At the June 6 auction, Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann and City Inspector David Nelson were in attendance as bidders seeking out lowly-valued, dilapidated properties – in an effort to beautify the city – for potential condemnation. Columbia County officials were also present as potential bidders, but no government entities purchased any lands.

Thurston’s office returns delinquent tax and interest collected, whether through redemption or sale, to the county taxing unit just as if the money had been originally collected there, according to the state.

By visiting the Commissioner of State Lands website at, a post-auction sales list of available properties that did not sell is available. The site also lists all other public auctions around the state and their available properties in a public catalog.

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