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Letter to the Editor: Historically low rates at Madison County tax sale

By   /  February 20, 2014  /  1 Comment

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To the Editor:

People usually don’t associate good news with taxes, but the annual Madison County Tax Sale, held this past Thursday, did result in good news for late taxpayers. Property taxes in the amount of $4.4 million were sold at a weighted average penalty interest rate of 1.59 percent.

I’m not aware of any prior Madison County tax sale that has yielded a lower rate.

In 2006, I blew the whistle on unethical tax sales. When it became clear that county authorities were turning a blind eye, my campaign manager and county board member Steve Adler called the FBI.

After I lost the election, Adler asked me, “How do you feel?” I told him that I was disappointed, but I felt my campaign would lead to cleaner tax sales. I will never forget Adler’s response: “Kurt, you just don’t understand. Now they think they are invincible. The tax sales will get worse. ”

Indeed they did. Tax sales in 2007 and 2008 resulted in average penalty rates of 18 percent, the maximum allowed by law.

The first thing I did after winning the 2010 election was to reform the tax sale process. I refused political donations from tax buyers and used automatic software to run the sale. The first three tax sales that I have run have all yield average rates under 4 percent.

We all know the rest of the story.

A federal investigation sent former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon to prison. Three buyers have pleaded guilty. That investigation continues.

The tax sales held from 2005 through 2008 cost delinquent taxpayers more than $4 million of excessive penalty interest, and that doesn’t count the homes people lost.

The bottom line is that low penalty interest rates are good for taxpayers.

Kurt Prenzler, CPA

Madison County Treasurer

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1 Comment

  1. Bob Rice says:

    I like how Mr. Prenzler pats himself on the back for just doing his job, what he doesn’t tell you—EVER is that although we know now Bathon was “fixing” the tax sales, the 18% rate itself isn’t indicative of wrong doing on all the Treasurers in Illinois, in fact the 18% rate was common in counties with republican Treasurers over time too (and still is today in some). If, as Prenzler says the 18% automatically means corruption, you have to only look back at a Tax sale that Prenzler held, which apparently has fallen into his memory black hole from Feb. 2013 in which 100% of the Tax sales were at the 18% rate. It’s funny how under Prenzler math, this doesn’t get added into his fictional 1.5 rate average or even remembered as happening. The black hole of memory also extends to the fact that Frank Miles had already turned the tax sales around and in fact Prenzlers fuzzy black hole of memory forgets the average rate had dropped BEFORE he took office, but don’t let that keep him from not remembering and breaking his arm patting himself on the back. Lastly let’s remember what we’re really talking about when we are talking about the Tax sales, they happen because people DON’T PAY THEIR TAXES—FOR 2 YEARS and Mr. Prenzler pretends that the lower rate saves “tax payers” money when in fact they would have saved 100% if they, like the real TAX PAYERS of the county–PAID THEIR TAXES on time. Mr. Prenzler also likes to pretend in his fuzzy math that all the people who had their taxes sold, actually paid up later, Mr. Prenzler is an out and out bald faced liar when he makes this claim. Prenzler pretends he is honest when in fact he has just changed the direction of corruption and dishonesty, not eliminated it.

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