The Missoula County Treasurer's Office aims to collect more than $100,000 in outstanding taxes owed by roughly 300 area mobile home owners. If individuals with delinquent tax bills from 2009 don't pay up by Oct. 19, their mobile homes will be auctioned to the highest bidder.
The average outstanding mobile home tax lien totals about $400, says Missoula County Chief Deputy Treasurer Kim Seeberger. "Some of (the bills) are small. But to the person, they're very large," she says.
County staffers are aware that a poor economy presents challenges for many residents, and Missoula County Clerk & Recorder/Treasurer Vickie Zeier says her office is making every effort to contact mobile home owners with overdue tax bills before the auction to set up payment plans.
"If someone is behind in paying their taxes, we may be able to work with them to figure out a payment plan," Zeier says.
"It's a hard process for us to do on this side, because we know the impact it has on the customers," Seeberger adds. "We don't want to take people's homes away from them."
While Zeier and Seeberger are sensitive to individual challenges, the county has fiscal responsibilities that depend on a steady and predictable revenue stream. Tax payments go into county coffers and provide a range of services, from law enforcement to road maintenance.
"They're expecting this money to come in," Seeberger says.
The list of mobile homes slated for auction is public record and published in the county classifieds, which appear in this week's Independent. Individuals planning to bid are not allowed to inspect mobile homes prior to purchase. Minimum bids must satisfy outstanding tax debt.
The auction is slated for Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. in Room 201 of the Missoula County Courthouse Annex.