Is something fishy going on with property tax sales in St. Clair County? Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler says that may be the case. Dozens of families lost their homes and taxpayers were billed for over $2-million in unnecessarily high penalties and interest fees when former Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon rigged the sales he oversaw to benefit political donors.
Prenzler says he sees a similar pattern in St. Clair County.
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Bathon's actions led to a new state law being passed in 2011 stating county treasurers to use automated bidding systems to conduct the sale of late taxes, or to videotape all sales of delinquent taxes and create online databases of properties that have late taxes up for auction. The St. Clair County Treasurer is Charles Suarez, who is the brother-in-law of Prenzler’s political opponent this fall, Democrat Marleen Suarez. Prenzler, who is a Republican, says this is not about politics. Marleen Suarez disagrees.