Many city properties to go up for bid

STEUBENVILLE – About 800 parcels of city property will be going on the auction block, many of them with low starting bids, through an effort by county officials to return vacant lots to the tax rolls.

From lots in downtown areas of the city to wooded sections near homes in the city’s hilltop areas, starting bids in the Jefferson County Auditor’s auction to be held on Nov. 14 will range from $25 to $500, about 5 percent of their market value.

The low bids reflect decreased values assigned by county officials in an effort to make them more attractive to potential buyers.

Located near city streets and with access to utilities, the lots may appeal to individuals interested in pursuing a business venture or residents wanting to acquire property adjacent to their homes, said Lewis “Doby” Piergallini, chief deputy for the Jefferson County auditor’s office.

“It’s a win-win situation because the bidders get good prices and the proceeds go to the government,” he said.

“And it gets the property back on the tax rolls because none of these are accruing taxes,” added Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Cerryn Cottrell-Marshall.

The properties were acquired by the county after their former owners failed to pay delinquent taxes. Real estate taxes for them were forfeited after they failed to be sold through two public auctions held by the county treasurer’s office.

“We have been doing these auctions for 13 years, but it (the property) has never been this cheap,” said Cottrell-Marshall.

She said the city has removed dilapidated structures from some of the lots, making them more readily available for development. Because of their status as forfeited properties, buyers won’t pay the cost for the demolitions.

Cottrell-Marshall noted there may be federal liens or mortgages on some of the properties, and potential buyers are advised to have a title search done by a licensed professional, which is recommended for all such auctions.

Piergallini said potential buyers also should look into whether a downtown property is part of a program that allows improvements to be tax-exempt for 10 years, pending the approval of city officials.

Those who want to learn whether there is land of interest to them may view a list to be printed in the Herald-Star Friday or go online at and click on Online Services and then Tax Sales on the website’s toolbar.

Aerial views of the property also may be accessed by clicking on Real Estate Search under Online Services and entering the parcel number.

Those interested in bidding should register at least 30 minutes before the auction in the county auditor’s office on the first floor of the courthouse. The auction will be held at 10 a.m. in the courtroom on the second floor.

To be eligible to bid, individuals must not be delinquent in tax payments and must present their driver’s license or other valid photo identification. For information, call (740) 283-8572.