County Board members gather to announce investigation into property tax auctions Monday

Amelia Flood Sep. 28, 2010, 2:15am

County Board member Jean Myers addresses a crowd outside the Madison County Administration building on Monday.

A group of Madison County Board members gathered Monday morning to announce the beginning of an investigation into irregularities in property tax auctions.

The investigation comes after a weekend report by the Belleville News-Democrat that indicated a number of properties' taxes were auctioned at the highest possible interest rates.

A hotline has been set up for property owners in Madison County to register complaints.

"The stench from this Administration building can be smelled from here to Springfield to Chicago," Kurt Prenzler, the Republican candidate for Madison County Treasurer said Monday morning.

Madison County Board member Jean Myers of Troy said the investigation had not yet determined the scope of the irregularities, although the scale surpassed other counties used by the News-Democrat in its comparison.

Myers indicated that in the townships of Jarvis and Pin Oak 278 auctioned parcels sold at the maximum rate of 18 percent from 2004 to 2006.

According to a press release put out by the group, the cost of redeeming a property tax went up from 25 percent to 36 percent between 2007 and 2009.

Myers, Prenzler and others called for an investigation by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan into the tax auctions and indicated they would request records via the Freedom of Information Act including phone records from the Madison County treasurer's office and other information.

"As a county board member, I am enraged," Myers said of the irregularities Monday. "We are as caught off-guard by this information as everyone else."

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