FORT EDWARD — On the surface, it looks like Washington County’s property tax auction was a success and a big money maker at $773,625 in gross sales.
“Success for me would be zero properties up for auction,” said Washington County Treasurer Al Nolette.
Additionally, Nolette said that after the $385,000 tax levy is satisfied and all the expenses — county attorney, county staff and other fees — are considered, “in theory there is never a surplus.”
“It is a two-year process to get there,” said Nolette, explaining that it takes several county staffers to handle property tax delinquencies. “With all the staff hours, there is a cost.”
Additionally, during a Washington County Board of Supervisors finance committee meeting on Thursday, Nolette cautioned the board against including property tax auction monies as revenue in the budget.
Nolette explained that if it wasn’t for a property that sold for $230,000 in the recent auction, they would not have covered the $250,000 budgeted last year as tax auction revenue.
“If it wasn’t for one big sale this year,” Nolette warned supervisors. “You can still lose money at the auction.”
During the Oct. 26 tax sale at the Hartford Volunteer Fire Co., auctioneer Russ Scherrer opened bidding with a 2,332-square-foot farmhouse built in 1900.
Situated on 314.8 acres along Route 197 in the Town of Argyle, the property was valued at $340,200, with $40,000 in delinquent taxes owed to the county.
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It sold for $230,000, more than five times the sale price of many other properties sold that day.
Originally, nearly 90 properties were listed in the county’s tax foreclosure catalog, but because about half of the property owners paid the delinquent taxes owed on the properties, 40 remained on the auction list.
A Fort Ann property on Pavilion Way, valued at $134,000, went to the highest bidder for $8,000. Another, on Hadlock Pond Road, went for $84,000, valued at $130,000.
According to county rules, the high bidders are required to pay 20 percent of the total bid deposit at the auction and once approved by the Board of Supervisors, the full payment is due.
Nonetheless, if a successful bidder owes delinquent taxes on another property in the county, their bid is rejected and their deposit forfeited to the county.
During Thursday’s finance committee meeting, supervisors approved all the auction sales.
Sold properties were located in several county towns and villages, including Argyle, one; Easton, three; Fort Ann, seven; Fort Edward, three; Granville, three; Greenwich, three; Hartford, one; Hebron, six; Jackson, two; Kingsbury, two; Putnam, two; Salem, one; White Creek, four; and Whitehall, six.