The eight properties the City will acquire for back taxes represent an unusual situation in recent years.
A strong real estate market and demand for housing has meant someone usually protects the property by paying the taxes whether that be the owner of record or a lien holder or someone who buys the tax sale certificate as an investment.
Not so in the case of six residential and two commercial properties this year. A few years ago, I remember the City acquiring a similar number and auctioning them off.
One doesn't lose property easily. For instance, failure to pay the city tax bill this August would result in the property being sold at tax sale next spring. That triggers a two year redemption period in which full payment cancels the results of the tax sale.
The property owner and lien holders are notified of the proceedings.
Sometimes lien holders pay the taxes on behalf of the owner of record if the property has sufficient value to justify a work out with the lendor or a foreclosure proceeding. Sometimes the lien holder takes a pass and that likely happened in at least a couple of these cases.
While the City has the right to sell a property at private sale instead of auction, there are recent controversies over that practice, in part because the former owner is rewarded because the tax seizure erases the claims of lien holders (except for federal tax liens.)
Whatever happens, it takes a four-fifths vote of Council to approve a sale.
Watertown Daily Times | City to take over ownership of Fort Drum Storage as a result of delinquent taxes