Accepting bids for 7 properties
OSWEGO — Port City officials are accepting bids for seven city-owned properties acquired through tax foreclosure as part of a revamped policy to deal with foreclosures and the latest move in a years-long effort to improve neighborhoods.
City officials in recent months worked to develop a procedure for selling properties acquired through tax foreclosure, in large put due to a change at the county level that has resulted in more foreclosures. Mayor Billy Barlow called the updated foreclosure policies “an attempt by the city council to add some transparency and some equity into the process of selling city-owned properties.”
“Our attempt is to add some consistency,” Barlow said of the procedures, noting city officials have been working on a policy since October when the city took ownership of about 15 properties in which homeowners owed taxes.
Prior to this year, Barlow said the city has not had a system or policy in place for properties acquired through tax foreclosure. The recent change in the county’s foreclosure process, which reduced the foreclosure period from four years to two years, is in part what prompted city officials to adopt the policies but there were a number of other factors.
“This is long overdue,” said Council President Robert Corradino, R-3rd Ward, noting the city doesn’t need the liability associated with owning and maintaining properties. “Having a refined system to get rid of the properties is in our best interest.”
Corradino said under the recently adopted system, the properties would be sold to the individuals who demonstrate the best impact for the surrounding neighborhood. He said the city’s recently adopted policies would also avoid sending properties to the county tax auction, which leaves the city no control over the future of the property.
“When it goes to auction you don’t know who’s going to get it and you don’t know what they’re going to do with it,” Corradino said. “Having this system in place we have the authority and power to pick the best use for the property. We want bidders to make the properties better moving forward.”
City officials were notified of roughly 15 property foreclosures in late October, Barlow said, and City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli sent letters to the previous property owners to offer them a final opportunity to pay the back taxes. Prior owners were given 30 days to pay in full before the city moved forward with selling the properties.
“I’m happy to say after he sent (the property owners) the letter giving them that 30 days, the majority of the property owners came in and paid all the back taxes that they owed,” Barlow said. “However, we still have seven properties that we will now publicize, sell and market.”
The city set a number of parameters by which to sell the properties, deciding to list the properties on the city website and accept sealed bids at the city clerk’s office for 45 days.
“We’re selling the homes as-is, so we’re not opening them up for people to look, we’re not taking people on tours, we’re simply reviewing the bid that they submit,” the mayor said, adding prospective buyers can submit any questions to the city clerk’s office.
Barlow said as part of any proposal, city officials want to know how much money bidders plan to spend redeveloping a property and details on what bidders plans to do with a property.
Minimum bids were set for each of the seven properties, ranging from $500 to $15,000, and officials said the city reserves the right to reject any or all bids on each of the properties. Barlow said in his opinion the future use of the property is more important than the amount of money the city is paid.
“We will not always necessarily give (the property) to the highest bidder,” Barlow said Monday. “Personally I’m more interested not in the price that the person submits, but the plan. We want to see in their proposal how the property will be used for the betterment of the residents of the city and include a plan, as specific as possible, for the development of the property.”
City officials plan to continue utilizing the current processes in future years, Barlow said, but changes or improvements to the procedures could be made as the process moved forward.
As a result of the updated policy, the Oswego Common Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday to advertise for bids on the seven properties. Four of the properties are vacant lots and three are homes.
The city is accepting bids for the following properties:
- 75 Mercer St., minimum bid $1,000
- 110 E. 4th St., minimum bid $500
- 111 E. 4th Street, minimum bid $500
- 132 W. Oneida St., minimum bid $15,000
- 154 E. Seneca St., minimum bid $750
- 181 W. Seneca St., minimum bid $2,500
- 268 W. 5th St., minimum bid $500
City officials are scheduled to open the bids and select which, if any, to accept in early March.