By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County officials are hoping property owners who are behind on their taxes will come forward before their land is taken away.
As of this week, 84 parcels are in jeopardy of being foreclosed on if the owners do not come up with back taxes from 2012 and 2013, as well as this year's bill, which was due April 30.
"You might want to let people in your area know because a lot of people think it's not going to happen to them," County Treasurer Kimberly Davis told legislators at a recent Finance Committee meeting.
The county will post signs May 23 on the lawns of properties that are in arrears, notifying owners that the land is about to be confiscated.
They then will have until June 13 to make payments in full.
If they do not pay, the properties will be sold at auction on July 23.
Davis said all delinquent owners have been notified numerous times through first-class mail, certified mail, public notices and, in most cases, by legislators.
Of the 84 parcels, 43 are homes, and that's more than usual, Davis said, although she is not sure how many of them are occupied.
Vacant land makes up 34 of the parcels, and seven are listed as commercial properties.
Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh), who chairs the Finance Committee, said it is sad to see so many homes on the list this year.
"I think that might be an indication of the economy not being so great, unemployment being so high and over-taxation by every taxing authority in New York state," he said.
"It's incumbent upon every local jurisdiction to realize that people can't afford to live here anymore."
Dame, a frequent critic of the delinquent-tax foreclosure process, said he would like to see a more lenient approach to taking people's properties, giving them more time and options for making payments.
"There are good, honest, hardworking people out there that pay their taxes, but some have come across hard times," he said.
"I think we need to be less harsh and do whatever we can to keep people in their homes."
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