County Executive, Tonawanda Supervisor Caruana Review Foreclosure Procedures, Responsibilities
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Erie County Director of Real Property Tax Services Joseph L. Maciejewski, CCD, Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana, and concerned citizens at 39 Fowler St. in Tonawanda as he outlined the foreclosure process in Erie County (“the County”), focusing on ways that homeowners can avoid being foreclosed on while underscoring Erie County’s commitment to ensuring the equitable spread of real property taxes across the County.
“Properties that are in danger of being foreclosed on, or that are already abandoned, are a blight and a significant drain on our neighborhoods,” said Poloncarz. “They present lingering problems that detract from the quality of life in our communities. We are here today to let residents who are in danger of being foreclosed on know that Erie County will work with them to help them stay in their homes, as well as to let all residents know that the County, working with our local partners, will continue to move abandoned properties into foreclosure sales. This gets them back on the tax rolls and strengthens all of our communities.”
Erie County has foreclosed on 500 parcels since 2012, with another 150 properties included in the current in rem foreclosure action. Prior to sale redemptions, payment plans and properties sold on auction day have allowed the Department of Real Property Tax to recoup $14 million since 2012, with another $4 million anticipated from the current foreclosure action.
“Since the County has gotten back into the foreclosure business, property tax collection rates have increased and homeowners who truly have a need have a department that will work with them to keep them in their home,” said Maciejewski. “However, anyone trying to game the system or abandon their property will have their tax responsibilities enforced in accordance with the law.”
Supervisor Caruana said, “The Town of Tonawanda is appreciative of Erie County’s plans to hold at least two auctions a year to get vacant properties into the hands of contractors or homeowners who will renovate them and bring them up to acceptable standards. We have received many complaints regarding vacant houses that were included in the last two auctions, and we are pleased to see that many of those have been renovated, and that the new owners are maintaining the properties. This will help to protect property values of homes in the neighborhoods where these houses are being renovated and maintained.”
Erie County’s objective in handling abandoned properties is to return such properties to the tax rolls. As such, the administration dedicates resources to the County Attorney and Department of Real Property Tax Services to continue to systematically foreclose on both abandoned properties and those properties where the owner does not have the resources to responsibly maintain their property. The County does allow for partial payments on delinquent property taxes in any dollar amount, and does negotiate payment plans with residential property owners; currently, more homeowners are in payment plans than
are in the foreclosure process. Homeowners delinquent in their property taxes will not see their homes padlocked by Erie County; the County does not take ownership of properties, but rather acts as a court-appointed entity to transfer foreclosed properties to the highest responsible bidder.
Erie County held property auctions in March 2012 and March 2013. The next property auction is scheduled to take place on October 2, 2013, in the auditorium of the downtown Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Prior to 2012, county tax liens were sold to a collection agency to collect and service the accounts.