Two-dozen tax delinquent county properties could be transferred from the county to the Oswego County Land Bank next month, after a county committee tentatively approved the measure Monday. The map pictured above shows the locations of various land bank activity over the past two years, including demolitions, renovations, sales, and the two-dozen proposed acquisitions.
OSWEGO — The Oswego County Land Bank is on the verge of acquiring two-dozen tax delinquent properties previously destined for the annual Oswego County Tax Auction, with a county legislative committee approving the transfer of the properties in exchange for one dollar.
The county Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee unanimously approved the property transfers Monday, with the full county Legislature scheduled to consider the measure next month. The Oswego County Land Bank has acquired properties in a variety of ways over the past two years, but the majority of the nearly 30 properties the organization has taken ownership of have come from county tax foreclosures.
Established in 2016, the Oswego County Land Bank acquired its first six properties — which were also tax delinquent county properties headed for auction — in September of that year, and took possession of 11 more county tax foreclosures in June 2017. Assuming ownership of more than 20 properties would be a step forward for the organization, which has returned more than a dozen properties to the tax rolls.
“It’s a lot of properties and it’s certainly going to be a challenge,” Land Bank Director Kim Park said. “It essentially doubles the amount from last year, and I think it shows that the land bank has really made incredible progress in this past year and has really made a difference in some of these communities.”
Though the properties would be sure to gain more than $1 at auction, officials say handing the properties over to the land bank is a better long-term strategy to improve neighborhoods, increase property values and broaden the county’s tax base.
“There’s a lot of variables with the auction,” Legislator Tom Drumm, D-Oswego, said. “It’s more of a steady process to transfer ownership to the agency, with their mission to get it back on the tax roll.”
Land Bank Member Marty Webster said “the key thing” about removing parcels from the tax auction is the county has no control over the future of the properties. Though the sale price is of some concern, Webster said who takes ownership of a property and what is done with it is far more important.
“If they go to auction we have no idea who is going to buy them,” Webster said. “That’s where we can actually direct the future of these properties.”
The land bank’s first couple years have been successful, Drumm said, and it’ll be a big boost for the county if the organization continues to have the right leadership in place and improve neighborhoods. He said transferring the properties to the land bank is “a creative way” to return properties to the tax roll, and noted “it’s hit or miss” when the parcels are sent to auction.
“We’ve seen the continued growth over the past couple of years, and I’ve liked everything I’ve seen,” Drumm said of the land bank. “With this volume, it’s certainly their next big step in their journey as a land bank.”
The 24 properties are divided between 15 municipalities throughout the county, with none of the properties located in the cities of Fulton and Oswego. Legislature Chairman Shane Broadwell, R-Oswego, who is also chairman of the land bank, noted there were no homes from the cities in part due to the healthy, collaborative relationship the organization has with the leadership of both cities.
Legislature Minority Leader Frank Castiglia, D-Fulton, said sending the properties to auction might provide a one-time payment, but it doesn’t provide recurring tax revenue. He said the land bank is an organization that can take possession of the properties, rehabilitate them, and get them back on the tax rolls so municipalities could start to gain tax revenue.
“I think it’s going to be good in the long run,” said Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman David Holst, R-Amboy, noting the county would lose some revenue initially, but come out ahead after the properties are rehabilitated, sold and put on the tax rolls.
Renovating the properties also helps clean up neighborhoods, Holst said, noting “a lot of times” a property goes to auction and the new owners make no repairs and sell the homes for a quick profit while the structures continue to deteriorate.
“In the long run it’ll be better for the whole county,” Holst said.
Land Bank Property Committee Chairman Dave Turner said members of the committee sorted through the more than 150 properties the county acquired through tax foreclosure, with the committee coming to consensus on the two-dozen properties the organization is seeking to obtain. Turner called the list of properties “a good mix” of demolitions and rehabs of various levels.
The organization divided the 24 parcels into four categories, according to Park, who said the properties range from the high-end properties to demolitions. Two properties — one in the village of Cleveland and another in the town of Hastings — are marked for demolition, and one property in the town of Hannibal is considered high-end with only a small amount of work required to put it on the market.
“Those are properties that we feel are a relatively quick and low-cost turnaround for us where we will make somewhat of a margin, and be able to take that (profit) and put it right back into these marginal properties,” Park said of the high-end, or A-level properties, of which there is one on the land bank’s list.
Most of the properties — 15 of them — fall in the middle of the spectrum, and are what land bank officials deemed B- or C-level properties, requiring modest to significant renovations before being sold.
Those properties are “going to take some money,” Park said, noting the B-level properties could require a $30,000 to $35,000 investment to repair. The C-level properties are marginal, and require a more significant investment, but Kim said the land bank couldn’t go around demolishing all of them.
“If we make an investment in them, we’ve seen from experience now that we’ll be able to make them into a nice, decent, single-family, livable home that really can turn a street around and increase the assessed value so that we’re making what we need to make on our tax base,” Park said. “When you do that, you lessen that burden for all other taxpayers.”
Five of the properties are what Turner described as “clean ups,” including a 20 foot by 15 foot property in the village of Sandy Creek that he called “a mistake in mapping,” which needs to be cleared up. Officials are seeking to merge the five parcels with adjacent properties to clear up a variety of tax map and property-line issues.
Source : Oswego County News Now