By Michael Regan firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda will put up 33 city parcels during a live real estate auction Thursday evening with officials hoping for a repeat performance from last year, when more than $454,000 was brought in through respective bids.
With the number of overall properties increasing from 20 last year that may be possible, with plans to use the money to pay back city, school and Niagara County taxes.
Most of the properties were acquired after lengthy periods of unpaid taxes, with a sliver of that total representing vacant parcels already owned by the city. About two-thirds of the properties up for auction have homes on them. The rest are vacant parcels.
NT Clerk-Treasurer Scott Kiedrowski said property owners were given ample time to come up with at least a partial tax payment, with a five-year process required before the city can foreclose.
“We’re not in the business of owning properties, “he said. “But we have to get these properties back on the tax rolls.”
City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said a considerable amount of time is spent each year working with residents who are enduring financial hardships and are unable to expeditiously pay their taxes.
Payment plans are also an option, though the deadline for that scenario passed earlier this month. Those who want to save their properties from the auction block have until late-Thursday to pay taxes that fell into arrears, though the payment must be in full for a property to be removed from the auction bloc.
Nickerson said the city has worked out agreements with more than a dozen property owners throughout 2013, equaling about $310,000 in tax payments that may have been lost through the foreclosure process.
“We do administer tax agreements,” he said. “It’s a good program. But we also have to take into consideration those who pay their taxes on time. Our hopes are to recoup all the dollars owed to the city, county and schools.”
Those who purchase the properties at auction will be required to pay for a pro-rated sum of property taxes this year as well as future taxes beginning in 2014.
The number of properties available at auction Thursday represent a broad swath of the city, Kiedrowski said, with attendance expected to be high, based off of previous years’ statistics, when city council chambers have been packed with a standing-room-only turnout.
The common council will review all the bids with the legal prerogative to decline certain offers such as individuals with a history of “being slumlords” or a poor track record of blighted properties or taxes in arrears, according to Kiedrowski.
“If they feel the bid is too low, they’ll tell them it’s too low,” Kiedrowski said.
The auction, conducted by Auction International, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the common council chambers at North Tonawanda City Hall, 216 Payne Ave.
Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.