Dec. 19 2012 12:00 AM

The number of properties owing on delinquent property taxes declines; still nowhere near pre-2008 numbers

The Ingham County treasurer says 2012 looks like the “definitive peak” of the housing crisis in Ingham County, with the number of property tax delinquents declining by more than 10 percent from last year and falling below 2009 figures.

“It’ll be interesting to see how quickly we recover from the challenges the foreclosure process has gotten us into,” Treasurer Eric Schertzing said. “Things are now turning more favorable.”

Indeed, the number of properties with delinquent taxes dropped 13.5 percent from last year, from 1,638 to 1,417. Schertzing also says it’s a positive sign that the total dollar amount owed to the county is “moving down.”

The list of properties published annually by law shows the properties and their owners in Ingham County who owe delinquent property taxes. If taxes are unpaid by March 31, the property may be foreclosed upon and turned over to the county treasurer. This year’s list (which is inserted in this issue) reflects taxes owed from 2010.

This year was also the first time the number of tax delinquent properties dropped below 2009 levels, which was the first year of a major increase in the number of properties that made the list due to the housing crisis. In 2008, the number of properties that owed on 2006 taxes was 822. It had nearly doubled by 2009 and generally increased for two more years (there were two fewer on the list in 2010 compared 2009).

“I would like to think this might be an indicator that, come 2014, we’ll actually see some property values firm up and maybe we’ll get back into a positive taxable valuation environment,” Schertzing said.

The Treasurer’s Office also prepared a list of the top 10 property tax delinquents in the county. It includes limited liability companies and individual property owners with parcels mostly in Lansing, but also in Holt, Mason, Leslie and Okemos. Some are familiar faces from last year’s top 10.

Paul Vlahakis is the resident agent of two of the entities in the top 10 — 101 S. Washington Development LLC and Vlahakis Family Limited Partnership — that owe the county more than $300,000 in property taxes. Both entities made the top 10 last year. The resident agent of a business entity may not outright own a property, but he or she receives notice of owing taxes.

Topping the list is the prominent commercial building in downtown Lansing at 101 S. Washington Square. BCD Apartments LLC — which includes nine properties in Lansing — and Fielek Land Development LLC — which owns 14 parcels as part of the Worthington Place condo development in Leslie — were the other two entities on last year’s top 10.

Six newcomers on this year’s top 10 include two landlords — Sam Usman Sr. and Kerry Hagan — that owe $106,398.30 on a total of 31 parcels in Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos and Holt.

DJF Landholding LLC, whose agent is Walled Lake resident David Fertel, is third on the list, owing $143,712.52 on a parcel that includes Go Work Out gym on East Edgewood Boulevard near Celebration! Cinema.

CB Labath LLC, whose resident agent is East Lansing-based CSC-Lawyers Incorporating Service, owes nearly $70,000 on a commercial building near the Jolly and Dunckel roads intersection.

Two parcels that were part of the former Four Winds Golf Course at Park Lake Road and East Saginaw Highway in East Lansing rank eighth on the list. Those are owned by Links Entertainment Limited Partnership, whose agent is the Lansing-based Atlantic Development Co.

Rounding out the top 10 are two parcels — a gas station on Dunckel Road in Lansing and a vacant parcel near the Okemos exit off Interstate 96 — owned by the Randolph G. Markham and a trust in his name.