PASCO — Of 51 properties in Franklin County that faced foreclosure for nonpayment of property taxes this year, one-third are owned by a well-known Tri-City couple.
The properties facing foreclosure have three years of outstanding bills for property taxes or irrigation assessments and interest.
Dallas and Lozie Barnes own 17 of the properties -- one house and 16 vacant residential lots. Public records indicate they owe $21,930 in property taxes and $6,448 in interest for a total of $28,378.
The couple, who have lived in the Tri-Cities more than 50 years, received the Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award in 2003 and are well known for their community involvement.
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Dallas Barnes is associate director of student services and special projects at Washington State University Tri-Cities, and has long been an outspoken voice in the Tri-City black community.
He declined to talk to the Herald about the back taxes other than to say he plans to pay off the outstanding bill on the properties before the foreclosure sale, which is tentatively set in December. He said he plans to develop the lots after he retires.
Franklin County Treasurer Tiffany Coffland said the county is required by state law to start foreclosure proceedings when a parcel is delinquent on tax payments for three consecutive years.
Overall, the county is looking to collect about $190,000 in delinquent property taxes, interest and fees from 51 properties, Coffland said. The county is also collecting about $4,000 in irrigation assessments and interest due to Franklin County Irrigation District 1.
By comparison, the county will collect $62 million in property taxes this year.
Benton County has 42 properties facing foreclosure, but no owner has more than one on the list, said Benton County Treasurer Duane Davidson.
Coffland said her office sent a notifice to all delinquent property owners in March. If they paid the 2007 taxes and interest before May, the fee was reduced and the properties were taken off the foreclosure list for this year.
Property owners who waited until after Franklin County Superior Court approved a certificate of delinquency on June 3 must pay all three years of property taxes, fees and interest to get their property pulled from the foreclosure sale, Coffland said.
Properties that go to foreclosure will be sold at auction by the county for the cost of the taxes, interest and fees, Coffland explained.
This year, there are almost twice as many properties headed for Franklin County's foreclosure sale than last year when there were 28 properties, she said.
Benton County has fewer properties on this year's foreclosure list than last year.
Barnes originally had 18 properties on the list, but paid off the 2007 taxes on his home to save it from the sale, Coffland said.
The remaining house and 15 of the vacant properties owned by the couple are in the east Pasco subdivision of Terrace Heights, which was subdivided in 1911.
They were bought more than five years ago -- the oldest date that sales information is available on the county website.
The house at 1704 E. Alton St. is valued at $93,500 including the land and was built in 1975, county records show. The vacant lots are each valued at $20,000 to $30,000.
Coffland said she expects most of the 51 properties likely won't be in the county's sale because owners or lien holders often pay them off.
The county has to notify anyone with any interest in the property, and if there is a mortgage the mortgage company usually pays off overdue taxes and interest, she explained.
For example, last year, five properties went to the sale, Coffland said. And so far, six of the 51 properties already have been paid off and are no longer on the sale list.