COOPERSTOWN -- The roster of tax-delinquent Otsego County properties that will be sold at auction in Oneonta on Wednesday has been whittled to 50 and officials are hoping for strong interest from potential buyers.

"Foreclosing on properties is the least favorite part of my job," said county Treasurer Dan Crowell. "But the more participation we get at the auction, the more funds that can be recovered to make up for the funds that were lost" through non-payment of taxes.

The Otsego County Board of Representatives waded into new waters this year when it authorized the sale to be conducted by a private auction company, Haroff Inc. of Schroon Lake.

"When properties are delinquent, all of the taxpayers end up paying more taxes because the counties need X amount of dollars to run," said auctioneer Ed Haroff, a retired state police trooper. "It's always a good thing when we get money back for the taxpayers."

Among five properties scratched from the initial list of auction offerings was a building on Clark Street in the City of Oneonta that contains the Moose Lodge. Crowell said county officials encountered "unique complications" with that lot, and further discussions are to be held on how to resolve the tax issues.

Information about all 50 properties that will be sold is listed on Haroff's website -- It is also available on pamphlets at the county treasurer's office in Cooperstown.

In addition, Haroff said he will lead a seminar for inexperienced bidders at 7 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn at 5206 State Route 23, Oneonta.

The auction will be held at the same hotel at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Registration opens two hours before the sale begins.

At the seminar, Haroff said, he will offer tips on how buyers can avoid potential pitfalls.

"I want people to walk away happy, not unhappy," he said. "If you have not made a prudent inspection (of a particular property), please do not bid."

The auction is also open to Internet and telephone bidding, officials said. On the day of the auction, high bidders must put down a deposit of $500 or 25 percent of the sale price, whichever is higher. The full amount must be paid within 30 days of the sale.

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