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Lee County Auction Deemed Success

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A controversial decision by the Lee County Board of Supervisors seems to have boosted interest in a property tax auction held in Fort Madison.

The supervisors chose to hold the auction at the North Lee County office building, even though 50 of 53 properties were located in Keokuk.

Chairman Rick Larkin said he chose Fort Madison because the 2011 tax auction was held in Keokuk.

The decision did not go over well with Keokuk residents or city leaders as several dozen filled the meeting room at the Lee County Correctional Center to voice their opposition.

The crowd even said this was another example of a concerted effort to move all county government to Fort Madison.

The headlines and coverage of the decision did not keep people away from the auction, though, as dozens of prospective buyers turned out.

Chairman Rick Larkin says the auction was like a party, adding that he was pleasantly surprised to see all the properties sell.

“It could have been from the publicity generated by the board meeting and stuff," says Larkin, "but I think the auctioneer had a lot to do with it.”

Larkin says Steffensmeier Auction Company did a good job of contacting potential neighbors about the sale.

30 different individuals or companies purchased a property during the auction.

The prices ranged from $3.33 to $6,000 for a house at 1317 Des Moines Street in Keokuk.

Lee County made more than $20,000 on the sale.

The new owners are not responsible for past taxes on the properties.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.