SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Counties have to wait at least several years to try to recoup some losses when a property owner doesn’t pay taxes.

AG Dakota owes at least $72,000 in back taxes for payable 2019 in at least eight counties, according to information gathered from counties in January.

The first step for counties to try to recoup those taxes happened in December of 2019, when a certificate number was assigned to the property. That’s filed on the third Monday of December.

A county can sell that tax certificate or hold it for a state required period of time.

If the tax certificate is sold that doesn’t mean the new buyer gets the property. There is still a waiting period in which the delinquent owner has a chance to pay and get the property back.

Counties that don’t sell the tax certificate must keep it for a required number of years. Then, they can start the process to take over the property.

South Dakota law that outlines the deed process for delinquent taxes in Chapter 10-25.

AG Dakota owns several properties in South Dakota. It owes back taxes on some of those properties.

In a Jan. 31 statement to the media AG Dakota said, “…we are going through tough times and a painful debt restructuring…”

In interview with KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke, David Hooper, who works for AG Dakota, said the company intends to pay its outstanding debt.

In a Feb. 3 email to Kennecke, Alan Gross confirmed that over the next two weeks he would be turning over “all operational control to (Dave) Hooper and his team.”

Hooper had written a Feb. 2 email to Kennecke which said Gross had stepped away from the company.

McCook County Treasurer Carol Lauer said her county starts the process three years after the tax certificate is filed on the December date.

AG Dakota LLC owes at least $13,000 in back taxes for payable 2019 in McCook County.

Some counties wait longer.

Brown County and Deuel County, for example, wait five years before starting the process to take ownership, county officials said.

“Most of the stuff where it doesn’t get paid is because people pass away…,” said Jennifer Mewherter, the county treasurer in Deuel County. Or it’s “property that’s junk.”

So when a motel owner in Deuel County owes $8,806.63, “that’s significant (money) that’s for sure,” Mewherter said.

Deuel County doesn’t have that many owners who don’t pay their taxes, Mewherter said.

Nor does Brown County. “At the end of five years, we have a handful,” said Brown County Treasurer Patty VanMeter. AG Dakota does not owe back taxes in Brown County, VanMeter said.

Lauer said when the waiting period ends, McCook County generally puts the property up for auction.

Yet, “every single situation is different,” Lauer said.

As with Deuel County, the amount owed by AG Dakota is “significant” to McCook County. AG Dakota owes about $13,000 in back taxes, Lauer said.

While counties wait several years before starting a takeover process, they continue to send the property owners reminders of the owed taxes.

What’s owed keeps adding up in interest and penalty so the amount owed keeps growing.

“They get many chances to pay,” Lauer said. “We’re hoping in this case (AG Dakota) that we collect. We just never know.”