Closer cooperation on foreclosures sought

50 city properties included in F.C. auction

GLOVERSVILLE — City officials believe that closer cooperation with the county will lead to better outcomes for tax foreclosed city properties included in next week’s auction.

Mayor Vincent DeSantis on Tuesday reported to the Common Council that approximately 50 properties located in the city will be included in the Fulton County tax foreclosure real estate auction that will take place Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Johnstown Holiday Inn.

Roughly 61 city based properties were originally slated for inclusion, but DeSantis said 10 of the tax delinquent properties have since been redeemed by owners with the potential for additional properties to be redeemed and removed from the auction block within the next week.

The city has been working with county officials this year seeking to gain permission to inspect tax foreclosed properties before they are sold at auction to identify existing city code violations in hopes of sharing the information with prospective bidders.

City officials believe this would reduce the likelihood that buildings requiring extensive work will be sold only to go through foreclosure again as new owners fail to perform work and neglect to pay taxes, placing properties back on the auction block after the conditions have potentially worsened over time.

The county was authorized to assume property tax collection and enforcement on delinquent city properties through an intermunicipal agreement in 2004. The county established Operation Green Scene in 2007 to address dilapidated government acquired properties that are unlikely to sell in public auction due to their condition.

These deteriorated properties are removed from the annual county auction list and placed in the custody of the county Department of Solid Waste until they can be taken down by the Fulton County Demolition Team.

While the city has been unable to secure permission to inspect properties ahead of the auction, DeSantis said the city has been invited to provide input to the Fulton County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee regarding whether to complete sales on city properties that receive bids below the owed taxes. Transactions for properties with bids at or above the owed tax value are completed during the auction.

“A lot of times when you underbid properties you have a property that the county has allocated $10,000 for and the highest bid was maybe $2,500 or $3,000,” DeSantis noted. “What we’re trying to avoid is that property being recycled into the tax foreclosure process every year and we have a derelict building that detracts from the neighborhood and detracts from the quality of the city.”

Following this year’s auction, DeSantis said Fulton County Treasurer Terry Blodgett will supply the city with a list of underbid properties that the mayor will review with Fire Chief Thomas Groff and other city officials to form an opinion of the best course of action for the property before attending the June 27 Finance Committee meeting to discuss options for the properties.

“The whole idea with this interface with the county that we’re doing is to try to work out something that’s feasible that benefits the county and benefits the city in improving neighborhoods, improving the tax base and improving the standards of our occupied properties,” DeSantis said. “To eventually get to the point where we’re solving this big problem that keeps happening.”

As the city and county work more closely together, DeSantis is hopeful that the city will eventually be able to access tax foreclosed properties to conduct inspections before the annual auction.

“It’s an intricate process, but I really am kind of optimistic that we will be able to work it out,” DeSantis said.