Auctioneer death may delay Essex County tax sale

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Posted: Monday, January 27, 2014 2:28 am

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County’s spring property-tax auction is still on despite the death of its chief auctioneer, but it might be held at a slightly later date.

Haroff Auction and Realty owner Edward Haroff of Schroon Lake died of head injuries after suffering a fall Christmas Day while walking his dog.

He would have been the chief auctioneer for the public sale of about 120 properties seized by the county for non-payment of property taxes.

The sale will cover the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 and is expected to earn about $1.5 million.

AIM TO CARRY ON

Essex County Treasurer Michael Diskin recently told the Essex County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee he has been in contact with Haroff’s firm since his death.

“I got some indication they want to try to continue his business,” Diskin said. “There may be an adjustment on the April date. They want to fulfill his 2014 commitments.”

He said Haroff Auction and Realty has a partner company downstate that may be able to help with the tax sale.

“I’m pretty confident we’re going to be able to continue, at least in the short term,” Diskin said.

The sale is still tentatively for 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 30, at the Best Western Inn and Suites in Ticonderoga. The county will sell building lots, acreage, camps, homes and commercial properties.

SQUATTERS

Another issue is that people are still living at some of the seized properties, Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said.

“They’re squatters,” County Manager Daniel Manning said. “If you let me know who they are, I can start (eviction) proceedings.”

The 2009 foreclosures are being done now for a future sale, Manning said, and notices were mailed to property owners on Friday, Jan. 17.

FRONTIER TOWN

The most high-profile property in the spring sale is the former Frontier Town theme park in North Hudson, which is divided into seven parcels.

The entrance building is owned by George Moore of Keeseville, and taxes on that are paid.

The restaurant, motel and Western town itself, which had various owners, are now in county hands.

County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said he has created a Frontier Town Task Force to decide how to handle that property and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

The Task Force will also look at uses for the former Republic Steel office building that the county owns in Mineville.

Members of the Task Force are: Supervisor Ronald Moore (R-North Hudson), as chair, and Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba), Supervisor Stephen McNally (D-Minerva), Scozzafava, Diskin, Manning, County Manager Daniel Palmer, Deputy County Manager Michael Mascarenas and Essex County Real Property Tax Service Director Charli Lewis.

A motion to issue a request for proposals for an appraisal and market survey of the available Frontier Town parcels was withdrawn at the meeting because Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) said it would set “a dangerous precedent.”

The Task Force will meet first, Douglas said, and propose how the county should proceed.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com