A lien sale for delinquent property taxes in Mohave County drew an overflow crowd exceeding 130 people to a county government building Monday.
Would-be bidders crowded the county supervisors' meeting room, stuffed the lobby outside the clerk of the board office and filled the parking lot and a vacant lot across from Beale Street with their vehicles.
The gathering was so large that staff from the county treasurer's office delayed the start of the sale from 9 to 10 a.m.
The lien sale was scheduled to resume today.
Treasurer Dora Goodmiller said before the bidding started that she expected a high turnout because of favorable interest rates for participants who made successful bids.
Bidding started with interest rates of 16 percent, and dropped a number at a time to as low as zero percent.
The tax sale involved liens for 23,600 parcels that owners have been delinquent paying for 13.5 months, Goodmiller said.
The delinquent taxes are owed county government, school districts, fire districts and other jurisdictions.
Goodmiller said she did not know how much money the delinquent taxes amounted to, and suggested that staff from the information technology department would know.
Information technology director Mike Matthews was unable to provide that information Monday afternoon.
Goodmiller said the lien sale offers a good investment.
"Even if they are only getting 1 or 2 (percent), they are still doing better than a savings account," Goodmiller.
Goodmiller said the lien sale also serves the best interests of delinquent property owners, 97 to 99 percent of whom redeem their back taxes within a year.
"Instead of having to pay 16 percent, they may only pay 1 or 2 percent (interest)" when they redeem their taxes, Goodmiller said.
Bidders also may gain ownership of the parcels after three years and a day if the property owners do not redeem their taxes, Goodmiller said.
Before the lien sale started, Goodmiller registered bidders and read instructions aloud.
She also advised bidders who wanted to participate later in the day to leave the boardroom, which is built to handle a maximum of 70 people.
"We are over the fire capacity," Goodmiller told the gathering.
"You will be removed if the fire department comes."
Her staff displayed the numbers of the parcels on an overhead projector, and the bidding began.
Participants held up pink signs with their assigned numbers when they made bids.
Keith Kano, a dentist who lives in Merced, Calif., said he showed up out of curiosity after speaking to his father about the lien sale.
His father, Clifford, lives in Bullhead City.
"We thought we would check it out," Kano said before the lien sale started.
Kano waited in the lobby with his wife, Amy, before the lien sale started.
Also waiting in the lobby was Ed Brown, a Las Vegas resident who owns a finance company in Bullhead City.
"I'm surprised there are a large number of bidders here and a number of delinquencies in taxes," he said.
Shortly afterward, Terry Schneider of Laughlin managed to work her way in line inside the boardroom.
The former cocktail waitress showed up with two friends.
Asked whether she would bid, Schneider said, "I don't know.
It is my first time."