Administrative Services Committee talks about foreclosure auction

MAYVILLE – Chautau-qua County officials are working to eliminate blighted properties and maintain the tax rolls at the same time.

Jim Caflisch, director of real property tax, came before the Administrative Services Committee last week to explain the outcome of this year’s property tax foreclosure auction.

Out of 254 properties in the auction, 220 received offers.

“Our combinations worked out very successfully for us, especially the farm situation I recommended,” Caflisch said, referring to a suggestion he made in May about grouping a package of six parcels for sale in the auction, which were formerly owned by Merle Elderkin of Gerry and had an amount of $559,328.96 in outstanding taxes.

“That turned out to be the right recommendation,” Caflisch said.

The six parcels sold for $429,700.

Elderkin also had 14 other properties with outstanding taxes owed, totalling $370,499.18. Those properties sold in the auction for a total of $235,700.

Elderkin’s properties totaled an outstanding amount of $929,828.14 in taxes owed, and the county made back $665,400 at the auction.

Countywide, all taxes owed totaled just over $2.2 million, while the auction yielded $1.9 million in offers, which Caflisch said were “pretty much all paid by now.”

In other matters, he explained the Chautauqua County Land Bank is moving forward and acquiring dilapidated properties with the help of the attorney general’s award of $1.5 million, which was granted in 2013.

Some of the properties will be demolished, while others are set to be reacquired and re-sold.

Caflisch said the land bank is looking into acquiring bank-foreclosed homes.

“Banks just let these properties go into foreclosure and we have to have a mechanism to reacquire them, fix them and get them back on the tax rolls,” he said. “If we didn’t have the land bank, we wouldn’t have a mechanism to accept those properties and that’s what we’re looking at in the next stage of distressed properties.”

Legislator Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown, asked how the process works for buyers.

“We profile the properties on the land bank website and there’s a request for proposals process for people to download and submit a plan to us,” Caflisch said. “We want someone who has proven and shown they can improve the property. It’s going to take a while to get full success out of it, and some return, but nothing is quick or easy in this world.”

A property at 768 Eagle St. in Dunkirk was recently sold by the land bank through its “Negotiated Sale/Rehab” program, while 18 additional properties will be added to the program this year.