Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Delinquent Greene

-------This year’s collection of tax-delinquent GreeneLand properties that are headed for sale at auction will be bigger than usual. The crop will be bigger not only because of our economic slump, with more owners being unable to meet their tax obligations, but also because last year’s scheduled auction did not take place. It was canceled in the wake of the untimely death of Michael Deubert, keeper of the county treasurer’s record-keeping system. Consequently, there will be an extra auction. The postponed auction will take place in late April, with the regular one coming in September.

-------If all overdue taxes on those properties were paid tomorrow, along with accumulated interest and penalties, GreeneLand’s treasury would be enriched by about $2.5 million. If all delinquent owners paid up after waiting until near the last permitted day—usually a week before the scheduled auction--the intake, what with increased penalties, would be even greater.

-------No windfall of that size will eventuate. Some delinquent owners are broke, some are dead, some are unreachable. Some properties that do end up on the auction block will go for even less than their overdue tax bills.

-------County Treasurer Willis Vermilyea’s roster of properties subject to sale at the scheduled 2009 auction originally numbered 1220. Following the postponement, and then notices about the new date, that list had shrunk to 92. If the charges on all those parcels were paid as well, the county treasury would grow to the extent of about $580,000 and the auction would be canceled. Some of the 92 delinquent owners, having been warned, have already paid up (including interest charges at the rate of one per cent per month). More redemptions will arrive ahead of the deadline. Drawing on past experience, Mr Vermilyea and his Director of Taxes, Ellen Crouse, estimate that about 45 properties will go on the block at Anthony’s banquet hall in Leeds on April 28.

-------Those parcels are scattered around the county. By town locations they range from two (New Baltimore) to 18 (Catskill). By amounts due, they range from $806 (169 West Main St, Catskill; Great Horizon LLC) up to $25,074 (Jems Noble Corp; 288 Platte Clove Road, Hunter).

-------Some delinquents own more than one parcel. The champion in this respect, for the year’s first auction, is Great Horizon, which owns five parcels in three different towns, for a total tax debt of $31,927. Great Horizon is a specialized property enterprise, buying up parcels at bargain tax-auction prices, and marketing them, or trying to do so, in subsequent months.

-------The September auction will be much bigger. Notices to delinquents went out just recently. They encompassed 408 parcels, on which $1.9 million in taxes, interest and fines were due. Amounts owed on single parcels in this collection ranged from just $191 (land in Jewett; Ralph Larsen) to $78,767. The latter sum is currently owed by ZAC Holding Company, and it applies to a historic site: the old shirt factory site at 162 West Main Street, Catskill, fronting on the east bank of Catskill Creek, whose three acres are zoned for use as a marina.

-------In number of delinquent parcels per town and village, the winner is Windham, at 77, closely followed by Hunter, at 71. Those numbers surpass more populous communities because the mountain towns have been the objects of subdivision ventures that turned sour. One company, Windy Ridge Corporation (headed by realtor Robert Kallman of Hensonville), owns 43 tax-delinquent properties in Windham, most of them building lots (27 on Glennamady Drive, 12 on Vining Road; total delinquencies about $40,000). Eagles Landing LLC owns eight Windham parcels.

-------In Hunter, 19 tax-delinquent parcels, mostly on Ski Bowl Road, are registered to one owner, Fless 5 Development Inc. of New York City. Five parcels belong to Damul Corporation. Five others belong to an individual, Richard D. Norarevian.

-------By way of contrast, 21 of the 22 tax-delinquent parcels in Athens (for the second auction) are registered to different owners. Three of those parcels are located right in the Village, at 46 Second St (Dennis & Dana Heines; $11,886), North Washington St (Joseph & Rose Oliver; $3501) and South Washington St (Margaret Guterwill; $474). Two parcels are building lots in the up-scale Sleepy Hollow Lake development. They can be redeemed before auction for less than $600 apiece.

-------In Catskill, with regard to the second round of auctioneering, properties that are currently in arrears on taxes belong to 28 owners.

-------In Cairo, 39 properties make the Treasurer’s list as prospective auction lots. If all of them were redeemed tomorrow, the county’s coffers would swell by $246,397. Those properties are registered to 33 different owners. Dancing Lamb Farm on Harold C. Mayer Road can be rescued from surrender to the county for $21,400. Three properties belong to Armando and Scolastica Didomenico, and would cost the couple at least $30,000 to be rescued from the auctioneer.

-------In Coxsackie, the 37 currently delinquent properties are listed as belonging to 26 different owners. Foremost among them, financially, are Darlene and William Downes, who are on the hook for about $41,000 for two parcels on Medway Earlton Road.

-------In Durham, 31 parcels are listed currently as subject to sale at the Treasurer’s second auction this year. They belong to 24 different owners.

-------Totals due before the September, by town (or town and village combined): Ashland, $38,143; Athens, $92,634; Cairo, $246,400; Catskill, $189,351; Durham, $140,648; Greenville, $66,315; Halcott, $6441; Hunter, $138,353; Jewett, $58,456; Lexington, $38,802; New Baltimore, $98,310; Prattsville, $89,144; Windham, $156,906.

-------Some of those properties represent opportunities. A few enterprisers specialize in acquiring tax-delinquent parcels. They do so by studying the Treasurer’s list of parcels and then either contacting owners in advance of the payment deadline or by attending the auctions. To delinquent owners of chosen properties they make low-ball offers, which look attractive as compared with outright, uncompensated loss of title. If an offer is accepted, the buyer takes title, pays the tax bill, and looks for a profitable sale.

-------Bargains also can be sought at the auctions themselves. Since tax-delinquent properties go on the block without reserve prices, a parcel whose market value is in the $50,000 range could be knocked down for $5000 or even $500 (plus the auctioneer’s 11% buyer premium), if that is the highest offer. Such possibilities are limited, however, by one constraint: Each sale is subject to approval by the county legislature.

[NOTE: another list of tax-delinquent GreeneLand properties was published in on March 18th. In a full-page and a half-page advertisement, it identifies hundreds of properties that were tax-delinquent in 2009. If they remain delinquent through this year, foreclosure proceedings would commence and they would be subject to sale at auction in September of 2011. Included in the listings, however, are all the parcels that are due for auction this April. Go figure.]

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