To the Editor:

For several years we had a problem of alleged fraud and abuse in relation to the Madison County property tax sale auctions. In September 2010, I promised taxpayers that if elected, I would reform the county property tax sale auctions. Recently, I fulfilled that promise by sending reform legislation to Governor Quinn for his approval.

The legislation was prompted by investigative media reports in September 2010 by the News-Democrat which led to state investigations into the Madison County property tax sales between 2006 and 2009 under the tenure of former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon. From 2006 to 2009 the average interest rate a property owner paid to a tax buyer was 18%, sparking allegations that the process in place at the time was rigged and unfair to property owners.

I encourage other Illinois counties to take a serious look at how Madison County conducts its tax sales with automated bidding, the average interest rate awarded at a February 2011 Madison County property tax sale auction was 3.9%.

The tax sale reform legislation sent to the Governor gives counties the option to either choose automated bidding or record with video and audio when conducting a property tax sale auction. If automated bidding is conducted, the bidding system must be programmed to accept the lowest redemption price bid by an eligible tax purchaser.

The property tax sale reforms sent to the Governor should ensure a fair bidding process for both the tax buyer and property owner. I am optimistic that multiple 18% interest rates awarded at county property tax sale auctions will be a thing of the past.

Dwight Kay
State Representative, 112th District

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