Wyandotte County leaders delay October, January property tax sales until April

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Wyandotte County residents who were at risk of losing their house during Thursday’s Tax Sale won’t have to worry about that until April 2022.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday afternoon in a special meeting to postpone the tax sales that were scheduled for Oct. 28 and Jan. 13 until April 28.

Commissioners voted 9-0. Commissioner Mike Kane, who represents District 5, was not present for the meeting.

Wyandotte County’s leaders were concerned that the these two tax sales, which would be held over the winter months, risked leaving residents of Wyandotte County without a permanent residence. The resolution will give residents who are delinquent in their property taxes more time to find a way to pay off their taxes or to get on a payment plan.

“We are not insensitive to the plight of certain of our population, who have felt, for a variety of reasons, that they need additional help or time to get current with their taxes or they need information and assistance in where to go and what to do,” said Commissioner Gayle E. Townsend, who represents District 1.

The Tax Sale that was scheduled to take place Oct. 28 would have allowed for people to bid on properties that are delinquent in their property taxes. There’s different criteria for how properties become eligible for delinquent tax sales:

  • Vacant or abandoned structures that have been delinquent for at least one year become eligible

  • Vacant lots or commercial buildings that have been delinquent for at least two years becomes eligible

  • Any structure that has been delinquent for three years becomes eligible

Properties that are on payment plans, in bankruptcy or in probate get removed from the list of properties eligible for the tax sale.

For the Oct. 28 tax sale, there were 186 parcels left in the sale; 44 of those parcels were houses. And for the Jan. 13 tax sale, there were 362 parcels left in the sale, with 225 of them being houses.

Properties that don’t get sold in the tax sale are taken up by the Wyandotte County Land Bank.

Commissioner Christian Ramirez, who represents District 3, said he would like for Wyandotte County leaders to do more to help residents who are delinquent in their property taxes. Wyandotte County sends out multiple notices to properties that are behind on their taxes.

“But what other steps are we taking? What else are we doing to help out our community members?” Ramirez asked. “Some of the properties aren’t rental (properties) and they’re homes people have had for years and now they’re going to be taken away. And that exacerbates the housing insecurity we have in our community.”

Ramirez believes the county’s Delinquent Real Estate Department needs to create a position within the department where it engages with each property owner and provides them outside resources — either within the Unified Government or with a nonprofit organization — that will help the property owners pay off their taxes.

“I believe we need to do more in the future,” Ramirez said during the special session.

Property owners who are delinquent in their tax sales can get on a payment plan. But people who then enroll in payment plans for delinquent properties still have to continue paying the property taxes for the current year. Half the amount of delinquent taxes must be paid in order for a property to be removed from a Tax Sale.

Commissioner Angela Markley, who represents District 6, asked if there was a way for the Tax Sale to be broken up and still hold the sale for vacant properties.

But Doug Bach, the County Administrator, said the county was advised that all the properties need to be included in the postponement.

Commissioner Harold L. Johnson, Jr., who represents District 4, asked if there are more long-term solutions so that this doesn’t become a problem in the following years.

“As we look at solutions for tonight, they be considered from the perspective of what we do in future years as well,” Johnson said.