COOPERSTOWN — A total of 43 tax-delinquent properties, many with homes or other structures on them, are expected to be sold to the highest bidders at Otsego County's annual public auction next month.

The owners of the properties eligible for this year's auction had until Monday afternoon to pay their back taxes and penalties or drop their payment in the mail, post marked no later than June 30.

The sale is scheduled to be held Aug. 26 at the Holiday Inn off State Route 23 in the town of Oneonta, the same venue where it has been staged for the past several years.

But this year's auction will be conducted by Auctions International of East Aurora, a firm selected by county officials because it offers a commission of 6 percent if buyers pay with cash. That is well below the 10 percent commission charged by the previous company that was enlisted by the county treasurer's office.

A catalog of the properties to be sold is expected to be posted on the company's web site later this month.

Once the county takes possession of the parcels, the goal is to get them back on the tax rolls. But for three owners of delinquent properties, last year's auction ended on a bitter note, as well as lawsuits brought against the county, after their requests to pay the back taxes after the deadline were rejected by county Treasurer Dan Crowell.

Two of the lawsuits have been dismissed, and a third, brought by Maria Ajello of Richfield Springs, employed by the county Department of Social Services, remains before Chenango County Court Judge Kevin Dowd.

Both Ajello and Robert Force, who with his wife, Donna, lost their 111-acre property in Gilbertsville in last year's auction, urged the county board again Wednesday to accept their late payment of taxes and nullify the sale.

Force, whose lawsuit was one of those that have been dismissed, argued the county board has given the treasurer a wide berth to make all key decisions regarding the auctions, in essence ceding its authority to him

The high bidder for Ajello's property at last year's auction was her neighbor and social services co-worker Cheryl Sparks.

 "We value money over humanity," said Ajello, 62, the widow of Vietnam combat veteran Kenneth Ajello, who died from a disease related to Agent Orange exposure.

According to the treasurer's office, the high bidder for the Force property in Gilbertsville was Christos Paraskevopoulos. The county board has not yet considered resolutions that would finalize the sales of the Ajello and Force properties by transferring title to the high bidders.

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