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Fulton County property auction not total loss

Move saves money not owing ’13 taxes

Sunday, December 30, 2012
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— Fulton County may have lost $87,000 in a November auction of 15 tax-delinquent properties it owns, but the county will save money in the long run by not having to pay a full year’s worth of taxes on them next year, according to the county treasurer.

By selling the properties before the end of the year, the county will be able to transfer title of them to their new owners. The new owners, and not the county, will then be responsible for paying 2013 municipal and school taxes, said County Treasurer E. Terry Blodgett.

“This is something I started since I became treasurer. The less time Fulton County hold these properties, the less taxes the county pays,” Blodgett said. Had the county held onto the properties until its next annual auction in June, it would have been responsible for the 2013 property taxes levied on them by municipalities and school districts, Blodgett said. “What would happen if we held them past January is we would have additional taxes to pay. By selling them, we eliminated the excess taxes we would have to pay,” he said.

The county is responsible for making towns, villages and the city of Gloversville whole for uncollected taxes on properties in their jurisdictions.

The county tries to recoup its money by selling properties it takes through foreclosure through two auctions held in June and in November. At the same time, it hopes to put the foreclosed properties back on the tax rolls.

The county sold 77 of 98 properties at the June auction, obtaining $30,200 for them. It sold 15 of the remaining 21 parcels last month for $2,700. The parcels owed $90,000 in back taxes. The new owners bought the parcels for less than the minimum bid sought by the county, hence the $87,000 loss. Their bids ranged from $100 to $600.

“We broke even in June but not in the November auction,” Blodgett said.

Approximately $85,000 of the $87,000 total applied to parcels in Gloversville; the remainder was for parcels in towns and villages. Back taxes on the properties ranged from $445 to $22,000.

Blodgett said all of the auctioned off Gloversville properties were vacant lots. He said the county demolishes a few houses per year in Gloversville, resulting in an inventory for which taxes must be paid annually. One Gloversville property’s delinquent taxes dated from 2005, for example.

The hope is the new owners may build on them, or another person may build on them, Blodgett said.

The 2011 auction netted the county approximately $70,000. It sold approximately $202,000 worth of properties in the towns but lost $132,000 in the sale of Gloversville properties, based on what the property sold for at auction versus what it owed in back taxes. Blodgett said the county generally takes a loss on properties it owns in the city and tries to sell them through auctions.

 
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