Haywood County has tried foreclosing on properties that owed back taxes, but sometimes nobody would even show up. Those who did would sometimes offer only a pittance. The county therefore tried directly auctioning properties, and that didn’t work, either. Unlike eBay, the county cannot set minimum bids; but leadership has recently learned the state does allow it to decline any bid if it considers it too low. Reporteth the Smoky Mountain News:

“We didn’t want to give property away,” [Commissioner Mark] Swanger said. “If you aren’t going to get anything out of it, you may as well put it on the recreation inventory and let people garden it.” . . .

The most common case is trailers lived in by people who are so poor and destitute they would become homeless if the county foreclosed on the tin box they live in.

“These people are in poor or in dire conditions,” [Tax Administrator David] Francis said.

Their trailers are in such bad shape, foreclosing would do little good in recouping the back taxes anyway. No one would emerge to buy the trailer at foreclosure, so the county would be stuck owning it.

Unfit to live in, there’s little chance the county could ever auction it off. So the county would eventually have to dismantle it and haul it off, on its own dime. Since the attempt to gain back taxes would only further saddle the county with the burden of getting rid of it, the county just lets them slide.