News Column

Otsego County sees jump in auction parcels

July 8, 2014

By Joe Mahoney, The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y.



July 08--The number of tax delinquent real estate parcels slated to be auctioned next month by Otsego County officials represents an increase of nearly 20 percent over the number that went under the gavel last summer.

The auction will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 20 at the Holiday Inn on State Route 23 in the town of Oneonta, said County Treasurer Dan Crowell.

Offered to the public will be 68 properties -- up from the 57 sold at last year's well-attended auction at the same venue.

The number of properties in the auction has sometimes been cited as a sort of misery index by some fiscally conservative county officials striving to hold the line on county spending.

They reason that any increase in public spending could necessitate tax increases burdening homeowners already scrimping to pay their tax bills and force even more people into tax delinquency status.

Crowell, responding to a request by The Daily Star to analyze the data before him, said the increased number of properties headed to the auction block demonstrates "the lingering effects of the poor economy" that began several years ago.

He said the parcels that will be sold are generally distributed across the county, though Worcester (with 10 properties in the sale) and the city of Oneonta (with seven slated to be put be put up for bid) stand out for having more than their share.

To be placed into the sale, the tax bills have to have gone unpaid for three consecutive years.

"As for the difference between this year and last year, I could certainly imagine the scenario where people living day to day may have been able to dip into some resources in 2010, but had a harder time climbing out in 2011 due to depleted reserves," the treasurer commented. "But I hope these numbers begin to fall dramatically in the coming years.

Separate from the public auction, the city of Oneonta is expected to oversee the sale of several tax delinquent properties as part of a pilot project aimed at increasing opportunities for affordable middle class housing and to maximize the chances they will be rehabilitated.

The county is still crunching numbers to determine just how much it will have to raise through the auction to make the county whole on the collective total owed by the tax delinquent current owners.

Crowell said his office will review unpaid tax bills, including water and sewer billings, to determine the full amount owed by those who stopped paying taxes.

Those whose parcels are in the auction had until Monday to square up on their tax bills.

Those who emerge as the top bidders do not inherit the tax bills, though if the properties remain occupied, they could find themselves being responsible for initiating eviction proceedings.

The county sells the properties in "as is" condition in a sale conducted by Haroff Auction & Realty and Absolute Auctions & Realty.

The auctioneer who presided at the last two sales, retired state trooper Ed Haroff, died last January after a tragic accident outside his home in the Schroon Lake area.

The inventory of parcels to be sold next month is expected to be posted by the end of the coming week at www.nysauctions.com.

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(c)2014 The Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.)

Visit The Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.) at www.thedailystar.com

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Source: Daily Star, The (Oneonta, NY)


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