Properties to watch during the 2018 tax sale season

A notice the sheriff’s office posts on doors of properties to notify owners the property is going to judicial sale.

LOCK HAVEN — It’s tax sale season, and residents of Clinton County can expect a number of interesting properties on the upset sale list.

As of Thursday, Aug. 29 there were 223 properties whose owners are at least two years’ delinquent in paying real estate taxes.

These properties face public auction Monday, Sept. 17 at the county courthouse. Treasurer Michelle Kunes said the back taxes people owe on their properties are where the bidding will start.

Of course, the prices may change because “we have to add on sheriff’s fees, our (treasurer’s office) fees… transfer tax, state and local tax,” Kunes said.

In fact, all liens, judgments and mortgages on any given property become the responsibility of the purchaser, meaning the final tab could be much higher.

Among the notable properties are the Fallon Hotel on East Water Street, owned by Dolores and Terry Mantle of Jersey Shore, which could be up for bidding starting at $20,201, and “Lawyer’s Row,” also on East Water Street, owned by landlord David Mayes of Mill Hall, who owes more than $33,117 in back taxes on those properties.

Also up for sale is the former Smith Law Offices at 226 E. Water St., next to the Mayes properties, which is currently also listed for sale on RE/MAX’s website but could have a starting bid at $10,513 during the tax sale.

And the owner of the Keystone Hotel at 400 Erie Ave. in Renovo, William Ross, owes about $10,000 in back taxes on that property and a combined $29,584 on other properties he owns in Renovo.

Kunes said many of the people who have properties on the tax sale list turn up year after year.

“Yep, and they wait till the last minute (to pay the taxes),” she said.

To get their properties off the tax sale list, property owners need only to pay taxes from 2016, the first year they were delinquent.

The treasurer’s office begins by sending out mailers and certified notices. In the case of 2016’s delinquent properties, they started the process of notifying owners in 2017, a year before the sale.

Then, if people do not pick up their certified mailer, the sheriff’s office puts a poster on the property, notifying the owner that the property is delinquent on taxes.

If the owner takes no action, the sheriff’s office puts up a poster the year after, alerting the owner that the property will be up for tax sale.

“People don’t realize there’s a lot of work that goes into this,” Kunes said, adding that many times it’s all for nothing since people often pay their taxes at the last minute.

If a property doesn’t sell at the tax sale, it gets booted over to the judicial sale, which usually occurs in the spring. But this year, the judicial sale is happening much later, on Sept. 20.

At the judicial sale, “you pay just your bid and that’s it,” said Deputy Treasurer Kristy Serafini-Brooks. You must pay sales tax and recording fees, but all liens and judgments are forgiven.

The vacant lot at 37-41 Bellefonte Ave., the site of a former furniture store that was destroyed by fire in December 2016, is listed for county judicial sale Sept. 20. Mayes and Brian Osenbach co-own that lot, and the city has a lien against it since it had to pay to demolish the burned-out building on the lot, earlier this year.

The Kennedy property, a building at 53 Bellefonte Ave., at the intersection of Bellefonte Avenue and Church and Commerce streets, is also on the judicial sale list. According to the county treasurer’s office, Earl Kennedy Jr. owns the property.

Properties still left after the judicial sale move to the repository list, which has three sales — Feb. 1, June 1 and Oct. 1. Bidding happens through sealed bids submitted to the commissioners. Each property starts bidding at $500 and each trailer starts at $100.