By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — One tax-delinquent property, in Butternuts, was taken off the auction list when the owner arrived from London and wrote a check to Otsego County for more than $52,000.
Another that remained on the auction list is said to be a house in Unadilla that is overrun with cats.
And a commercial property set to go under the gavel at the county’s annual tax foreclosure auction at 11 a.m. on Aug. 14 is the home of the former West End Body Shop on Chestnut Street in the town of Oneonta.
The business closed nine years ago, and the building has been such an environmental hot potato that no one, not even the town of Oneonta, wanted to take title to it.
In all, Otsego County officials said Tuesday, a total of 55 lots are slated to be sold at auction at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta, the second tax delinquency sale that the county has arranged to be managed by Haroff Auction & Realty Inc.
More than two dozen of the properties are residential homes. Many of the parcels are rural vacant land, including a 52-acre tract in New Lisbon and one that’s 47 acres in the town of Oneonta.
“There is a big variety here — commercial buildings, vacant buildings and even some rental property,” said Otsego County Acting Treasurer Russ Bachman. “There are some nice residential properties out there that are vacant.”
The county’s objective is to get them back on the tax rolls.
They became eligible for the auction this year when it was determined that the tax bills going back to 2010 had gone unpaid, said Savannah Bresee and Bernadette Atwell, both staffers in the Treasurer’s Office who have been preparing for the auction now less than a month away.
Last year four people forfeited their deposits after they decided, for reasons unknown to the Treasurer’s Office, that they didn’t want to complete the transaction.
When that happens, Bachman said, the properties are offered to the second highest bidder.
Bresee said the total assessed values of the properties to be auctioned off this year comes to more than $2.8 million. The total amount of delinquent taxes on those properties is $665,802.35. That total, she said, was driven up by one property in particular — the West End Body Shop, whose unpaid taxes and penalties amount to about $117,000.
Last year, Bresee said, the county did very well, collecting $701,850 at the 2012 auction for parcels whose collective tax delinquency amounted to $444,302.49. That meant the county profited to the tune of $257,547.51, she noted.
The properties will sell for whatever the top bid is that the auctioneers can get, plus fees that are associated.
“It all depends on who shows up,” said Atwell. “Sometimes, it becomes a bidding war between two prospective buyers interested in the same parcel.”
About six of the properties being offered for sale are currently occupied, information that will be flagged on the auction brochure expected to be printed later this week, the officials said. If eviction proceedings are necessary to force the removal of those occupants, that responsibility falls to the person who buys the property, they said.
Prospective buyers are not required to attend the sale in person, as the auction company accepts internet bids.
All of the procedures, terms of the sale, information about the buyer’s premium and the down-payment rules are explained on the web site www.nysauctions.com. The full payment must be received by the Treasurer’s Office within 30 days of the auction.
The properties can be viewed in person on Aug. 13, during time slots that will be posted on the auction web site by Aug. 10.
Oneonta Town Supervisor Robert Wood said he’s very hopeful there will be buyer interest in the former West End Body Shop. “No one wanted ownership of it before, so we’re very happy to see it going back on the market and become what we hope will be a revenue generating property again.”
About two years ago, paints and flammable materials that had been stored in the building were disposed of during a county-sponsored hazardous waste pickup event, Wood noted.
Bachman said that if the West End Body Shop building is sold, the person buying it will have to sign a disclosure that he or she has read a state environmental report associated with the property and confirm that any additional environmental cleanup needed there will be completed.
The inventory of properties that will be auctioned can be viewed now on www.nysauctions.com
Officials said copies of a printed brochure listing the parcels is expected to be available at the Treasurer’s Office in Cooperstown by Friday. Bachman said the Treasurer’s Office makes a concerted effort to contact the owners of the tax-delinquent properties prior to putting them up for auction so they are aware of the consequences of failing to pay their taxes.