A month after the Sampson Board of Commissioners decided to forgo handing a piece of property on West Carter Street over to the city of Clinton to pay a maintenance bill, in favor of selling it, there has been no public interest shown in the small lot.
Sampson County is faced with a bill in excess of $1,500 for maintenance on the 0.26-acre lot, located between 400 and 406 West Carter St.
While preparing to bill an absentee landlord for that cost, city staff discovered that the lot was not abandoned but actually belonged to the county. The city has maintained the lot under their nuisance lot procedures for a considerable amount of time, incurring a cost of $1,468.44 in the process — that cost has inflated with interest.
The county board considered conveyance of the small lot to the city as a way of payment in November, before tabling the matter until December. The options were to pay the bill straight up, give the lot as payment or try to sell the lot. The county chose the last of those options, unanimously authorizing staff to declare the lot surplus and move forward with the process of selling the lot, setting a minimum price tag of $2,000.
Assistant county manager Susan Holder briefly updated the board on the matter Monday night, saying there had been no formal response to the public notice of the sale.
“We have received no bids,” she said, noting that the board could chose to re-advertise the sale.
Some county officials previously expressed concern of just such a predicament.
Tax administrator Jim Johnson said the size of the lot was a main reason he was leery of the county trying to sell it. Attorney Annette Starling said selling the lot could be met with obstacles and extra costs.
“The best thing would be if we could sell it, but the concern would be it would cost us more than we would get,” she said. “That is the risk we would run if we try to sell it and nobody buys it.”
The land sale has to be competitively bid, bringing additional costs over the city’s maintenance fee. Johnson has noted the entire ordeal could get the county deeper in the hole if the property is not sold. Holder has noted ad costs around $200 and, if there are no takers, that money would be gone and the bill would still have to be paid.
And that bill has actually gotten larger, with a notice sent Dec. 5 by the city that the amount due is $1,545.48, close to $80 more than original quoted. The printout from the city noted interest amounts tacked on to the principal amount over the course of the last nine months.
The lot is reportedly valued at $4,200.
It was foreclosed on by the county several years ago and was sold, but conveyed back to the county, indicating a possible problem with the foreclosure — that was done in 1989. The lot was essentially lost in the mix.
Last month, commissioner Jefferson Strickland said the county should at least try to take advantage of an opportunity for additional revenue through publicly bidding the property.
Through the upset bid procedure, public notice of each new bid is published and a period of 10 days to raise the bid given. If the bid is raised within the 10 days, the procedure begins again with another notice published. N.C. law states the new bid must be no less than 10 percent of the first $1,000 of the old bid and 5 percent of the remainder.
While the county saw vast participation in such a process for the old Halls School property in 2010, the interest in the much smaller Carter Street tract has been nil thus far.
“It has been suggested that we also send a copy of that to surrounding property owners,” said Holder. “We can do that as well.”
No deadline was set by the board to submit a bid, so the process is still open, Starling noted.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.