Ulster comptroller calls on county exec to delay tax auction

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KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller March Gallagher has called on County Executive Patrick Ryan to delay the property tax auction slated for next week until an online bidding option is added to the process.

Gallagher has received several complaints from potential auction bidders that were denied participation in the auction because of in-person attendance limits set by social distancing requirements.

The tax auction is scheduled over a three-day period, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, October 27, 28, and 29, beginning at 10 a.m. at the SUNY Ulster Quimby Theater.  Due to pandemic public health restrictions, the auction attendance is limited to 45 in-person attendees at any one time. 

The county website lists bidder registration as “closed.”  Currently, 188 properties are listed in the auction materials which were revised in early October removing one property that had been redeemed by the delinquent owner.  There are to be 11 bidding sessions broken up by town. Registered bidders were required to identify the town for properties on which they plan to bid.

Unlike most other counties in the state, Ulster does not provide the option to bid online.  Ulster County has had a long-standing arrangement with George Cole Auctioneers and is in the second year of a three-year contract at an annual cost of $5,000 to provide marketing and auctioneer services.  George Cole does provide online bidding for other auctions, primarily personal property items.  

Real property tax auctions occur each year for properties at least three years in arrears on their property taxes. Real Property Tax Law Article 11 allows delinquent owners to redeem properties for back taxes, penalties, and interest prior to the auction. Once Ulster County forecloses on a property it auctions the property to recoup the back taxes and return the property to productive use.