Lieutenant Governor Osbert E. Potter held a press conference at his St. Thomas office on June 23, 2017 to announce the first of several upcoming delinquent property tax auctions. He was accompanied by Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker and Tax Collector Ludence Romney.
The public auctions, facilitated by the Office of the Tax Collector, will take place on St. Croix on Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Juan F. Luis Hospital Bennie & Martha Benjamin Foundation Conference Center; and on St. Thomas on Thursday, July 6, 2017 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Windward Passage Hotel Caribbean A & B Conference Room.
There are 65 real properties that have been designated for sale at the auctions: 23 in St. Croix and 42 in St. Thomas/St. John. The St. Croix properties slated for auction have an assessed value of $16.7 million dollars, and $1.5 million in taxes and fees. The St. Thomas/St. John properties have an assessed value of over $32 million dollars, and $2.4 million in taxes and fees. Lieutenant Governor Potter indicated that owners of the property will have up to one year to redeem their properties. During that time, monies collected from the sale of the properties will be held in a non-interest bearing escrow account with the VI Department of Finance. If property owners redeem their property within one year, the winning bidder will be refunded their money paid for the property.
During the press conference, Attorney General Walker announced that agents of the Department of Justice will be present to monitor the auction to avoid fraud, and that people have been warned to engage in fraud at their own peril. He indicated that certain individuals were notified directly that they are banned from participating in the auction as a consequence of their involvement in schemes which resulted in the voiding of previous auctions that took place with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
“The purpose of this press conference is to restore the public’s confidence in the auctions. Transparency is the order of the day. No employees of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor or their immediate family members can participate in the auction. And there will be no second highest bidder allowed. The auction will generate monies for the Virgin Islands Government to provide necessary services to the people of the Virgin Islands.” stated Lieutenant Governor Potter.
Tax Collector Romney indicated that no cash will be accepted, which will reduce the opportunity for fraud or money laundering during the auction. Property owners whose properties are designated to be auctioned may come in to the Office of the Tax Collector to make payment agreements prior to the auction. Their property will be removed from the delinquent list if an agreement is in place.
The general public is welcomed to attend the auction to observe or participate in the bidding process. All attendees must pay a $50 registration fee prior to the auction, or $100 registration fee on the day of the auction.
For more information on the list of properties designated to be auctioned, or on the registration and bidding process, please call the Office of the Tax Collector at (340) 773-6449, and St. Thomas at (340) 776-8505.