In Calhoun County, Alabama, The Anniston Star
- Nearly half a million dollars is waiting to be claimed by its rightful owners in Calhoun County.
Just who owns the money, however, was less clear Thursday [March 23].
Calhoun County commissioners on Thursday agreed to transfer the $470,781 into an escrow account until, and if, the owners come for it. If the owners fail to claim the money within the required timeframe, the county keeps the cash.
Melissia Wood, assistant county administrator, said by phone after Thursday’s meeting that the cash is excess from the auctions of properties in tax sales.
At some auctions, the winning bids were higher than what the previous property owners owed in unpaid taxes, Wood said, and the difference between the two figures resulted in the extra money.
If it’s deemed the money belongs to the original owner of the property, those people have 10 years from the date of the purchase to claim their money, Wood said, but determining ownership of the money isn’t easy.
“The claim for excess funds is a very complicated issue. Laws have changed on it several times,” said Gloria Floyd, grant manager and paralegal for Calhoun County, speaking by phone Thursday.
Floyd suggested that anyone who believes they may have a claim to excess funds from a tax sale should contact an attorney to be certain.
Ken Joiner, county administrator, speaking to commissioners before Thursday’s meeting, said the county can’t use the cash for anything until after the 10-year time limit from the date of any given sale.
“If they don’t come in, then it can roll over,” Joiner said.
Nearly 75 percent of the 90 property purchases were done by companies, according to the list of transactions given to The Star on Thursday. The amounts owed range from $51 to $35,000.
The commission’s action Thursday to place the money into escrow is a legal requirement and happens each year, Joiner said.