ST. CLOUD -- The fallout from the real estate crash is hitting area cities and counties hard. Stearns County has approved plans to appraise and sell off more than 270 tax forfeited properties in St. Cloud, Sartell and Rockville.

County Auditor-Treasurer Randy Schreifels says they typically see 10-20 such properties go up for auction per year.

But, besides the huge jump in number, is the fact that these parcels of land already have sewer and water extended to them.  Schreifels says that leaves cities holding the bag on the sewer and water costs.  It's those unpaid assessments that are putting cities in a financial bind.  For example, St. Cloud Finance Director John Norman says his city is owed more than $6-million.

Schreifels says it's unlikely the cities will ever be made whole by the auction process and any re-assessments may scare potential buyers off.

The problem isn't getting better either. There are early estimates that there could be as many as 400 such tax forfeited properties going to auction next year.