By the time Washington County Treasurer Todd Hershey kicked off the annual tax auction Tuesday morning, the list of property owners still delinquent on their taxes had been winnowed down from the 625 listed a few weeks ago to 298.
More than 70 people gathered behind the Treasurer’s Office at 35 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown to bid on houses, commercial buildings — even a bowling alley — with an estimated total cash value of $44.3 million.
A few hours later, they had bid nearly $6.5 million on 229 of the properties, according to treasurer’s office figures.
That does not mean the winning bids will result in those individuals or entities owning the properties. The bidders were buying options to foreclose. The delinquent owners have four months to reimburse the bidders for the taxes owed, plus 6 percent interest, Hershey said.
Bidders can start charging attorney’s fees on top of the taxes owed after four months, but cannot begin the foreclosure process in Washington County Circuit Court for six months, Hershey said.