Press-Republican

September 23, 2013

Faster auction sales sought

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Franklin County will update its land-auction policy and wants to speed up disposal of foreclosed properties along the Adirondack Park’s Forest Preserve boundary.

A section of the county’s policy gives the State Department of Environmental Conservation six months to decide if it wants nearby county-owned parcels for inclusion in the Forest Preserve.

The policy has been in place since 1999, and the DEC has never exercised its right to request a parcel, Franklin County Treasurer Bryon Varin said.

Therefore, he’d like to find a way to shorten or possibly eliminate the six-month waiting period the DEC has to make up its mind on possession of available parcels.

If the county gains that relief, it can hold a land auction as soon as it wants instead of having to wait the legally set six-month time frame, he said.

The treasurer said a section could also be added about advertising for an auctioneering service and a requirement that winning auction bidders bring a purchased building up to code within 18 months or face losing the parcel.

‘STRENGTHEN CONDITIONS’

“We’re trying to strengthen the conditions of an auction and bring the policy up to date,” Varin said.

Finance Committee Chairman Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake), who is a forester, said he will speak with DEC officials to get an understanding of what they want to do and report back to the County Legislature.

In the meantime, Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake) suggested that if the DEC does not respond before the land auction Varin has tentatively set for Wednesday, Oct. 23, those parcels could be removed and held for a future sale until an answer is provided.

There are 90 county-owned properties to be sold at next month’s auction, and another one could be scheduled as soon as spring 2014, Varin said.

4 OTHER POLICIES

This is one of the policies legislators intend to update during the final two months of their terms since all seven seats are up for re-election.

Besides the land-auction rules, Burpoe has said there are four other policies identified in the county’s annual independent audit that need updates: employee and official travel; a year-end-billing deadline; use of a universal gas card versus the County Highway gas-service island; and credit cards.

He said at least 15 minutes will be set aside in each of the next several County Legislature meetings to address each item.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com