Top 10 delinquent properties in Travis County

A southeast Austin vacant lot and another just down the road are owned, according to county records, by Colton Bluff LLC. With a tax bill of almost $55,000 the real estate investment company found itself at the top of a list of delinquent property owners. It was revealed Tuesday morning by county assessor-collector Bruce Elfant.

"Basically if people call us and try to work with us, they are not going to end up on this list. The vast majority of the people on the list are people we have not heard from at all."

Elfant's top 10 list includes; the owners of a Harmon Ave apartment complex. Tuesday afternoon- the company worked out a payment plan for the $54,000 that was owed. 

The list also includes a professional building near the Lakeway Regional Medical Center. The bill for that location totals $40,000. In clarification, the tax bill is attached to a company called Aqua Land Lakeway Medical development and not to the Hospital.

Elfant says his original list had several different names on it but people started paying up after learning about his news conference.

"There are a number of excuses, business deals that are pending, people who have forgotten, people who are probably playing us a little bit, so it ran the gambit of the excuses we heard,” said Elfant.

There's currently about 18,000 property owners who haven't paid their tax bill. The amount owed to the county totals a little more than $36 million.

For those who are not willing to pay, county officials say they are willing to find someone who will pay by putting the property up for auction. The courthouse property auction attracted a large group Tuesday morning. Among those making a bid was Joan Harkins. It was her first auction.

"So I bought a property for $237,000 and I’m supposed to flip it for at least 30%  … I think I can do it,” said Harkins.

There are about 100 properties currently in Travis County with delinquent tax judgments. Elfant said he doesn’t want to use a big stick to get the bills paid, but if they are not paid, Elfant was clear the properties will end up at the auction and money will be collected for the 111 jurisdictions that rely on the tax.

In an update Tuesday afternoon, Managers at the Travis County Tax Office clarified the status of one of the companies on the top 10 list of delinquent property owners.it was determined that Solarbridge Technologies  made a payment on March 28, 2016. The money was applied to a different property owned by the parent company, Sun Power. Officials with the county stated  their earlier attempts to Solarbridge went unanswered until after FOX7 went to the company’s North Austin office. Funds were transferred to the property located at 9229 Waterford Centre Blvd and the County now considered the  account to be paid in full.

The following is a statement from Colton Bluff LLC:

We are fully aware of the taxes due to Travis County. We have had this property under contract to be sold for almost 2 years. The assessed value of these two parcels increased from $588,096 to $2,405,145 based on a preliminary plat map being submitted by our potential buyer. However, the buyer can’t close on the deal because of wastewater issues being held up by AWU. It is our opinion that a 400%+ increase in assessed value in a single calendar year is unreasonable and artificial, and candidly should be the real story here. We have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this project and have already paid a substantial amount of the taxes due, in fact, the parcel at 6917 Colton Bluff Springs Rd has already been paid in full. We are working diligently to get this matter resolved.

Travis County sent FOX 7 the following press release:

Top 10 delinquent property taxpayers announced

The top 10 delinquent property taxpayers were announced today by Bruce Elfant, the Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector, before the monthly auction of foreclosed properties at the downtown Heman Sweatt Courthouse.

While the tax office has collected 98.64 percent of the property taxes owed for the county’s 111 government entities, including school districts and cities, for the 2015 tax year, it has 18,146 property owners who collectively owe over $36 million.

“Tax office employees, including myself, telephoned delinquent property owners, hoping to collect the payment in full but willing to work out a payment plan for those struggling to pay,” Elfant said. “The tax office sent letters, asking the property owners to please get in touch with us.”

These property owners received their tax bills in November 2015 and failed to make payment by the Feb. 1, 2016 deadline. The worst thing a property owner can do is ignore making a payment. “It is important to note that all we ask at the tax office is if you cannot pay your tax bill in full to contact us, talk to us and work with us,” Elfant said.

The Top 10:

COLTON BLUFF LLC
7321 COLTON-BLUFF SPRG
6917 COLTON-BLUFF SPRG RD   
$54,849.30

*LH HARMON AUSTIN LLC
4719 HARMON AVE
$54,093.69 ( Payment plan set up)

*SOLARBRIDGE TECHNOLOGIES INC
9229 WATERFORD CENTRE BLVD
$46,605.44 (Bill applied to new owner-Resoloved)

AQUA LAND LAKEWAY MEDICAL DEVELOPM
3000 S RANCH RD 620
$40,308.54

PB AUSTIN RIDGE LLC
8509 F M RD 969
$38,040.65

BLG SPM 3B 3C LLC
0000 SOUTHPARK MEADOWS DR
$38,020.92

REALTEX COMMERCIAL LLC
0000 S CAPITAL OF TX HY
$34,354.71

KILLIAN CUSTOM HOMES LLC
7407 LENAPE TRL
7405 LENAPE TRL
$33,513.56

CORD SHIFLET
65 PASCAL LN
$31,161.12

MOELLENBERG PROPERTIES LLC
5800 WESTMONT DR
1140 DON ANNST
2015 PAYNE AVE
14707 LONG BRANCH DR
0000 RAIN WATER DR
0000 RAIN WATER DR
2105 WHITE DOVE PASS
$30,633.48

Property owners that fail to pay their taxes or make a payment plan can expect to be sued by the Travis County Attorney and their properties will be sold on the auction block. Elfant said the county does not foreclose on properties or publicly shame property owners to hurt them. “These delinquent property owners hurt all of us,” he said. “It isn’t fair to you or me if we are paying our taxes and others are not.”

The county counts on property tax money to pay for services, such as law enforcement, the courthouse, emergency services, parks and road care. If the county’s projected property tax revenue falls short programs are either cut or property taxes raised to make up the difference.

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