PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County officials are hoping the owners of 88 properties that are behind on their taxes will make payments in order to avoid losing their land.
"Taking someone's property is a harsh thing to do, and we want to give every taxpayer every opportunity to make their payments before they lose their property," said County Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county's Finance Committee.
County Treasurer Kimberly Davis told legislators recently that 121 parcels were behind in their 2014 and 2015 taxes as of the Jan. 8 deadline. Of those parcels, 54 were residences, 64 were vacant land, and three were commercial properties.
Since Jan. 8, 33 parcels have come off the list after owners made good, leaving 88 delinquent. Last year at this time, there were 97 delinquent properties, Davis said.
45 FINAL DAYS
There are more than 33,000 properties in the county.
"Having only 88 out of that many is not that bad, but we don't to see anyone lose their property," Dame said.
Davis explained that the property owners will have 45 final days to pay up once a judge signs an order declaring them delinquent, which will probably occur in March.
Owners pay without penalty before a judge signs the order. But once the order is signed, owners will have 45 days to make their payments and must add on a 20 percent penalty.
Bright yellow signs warning the owners that they are in danger of losing their property will be placed on site of each location once the judge signs the order.
Owners can make payments at the Treasurer's Office in the Clinton County Government Center using guaranteed forms of payment such as cash or a cashier's check.
Credit cards can be used for online payments, but not after the 45-day penalty period begins.
If the payments are not made after the 45 days, the county will seize the properties and put them up for public auction, probably in mid June.
The sale will likely be held about two months after the penalty period ends, but property owners will not be able to pay the back taxes and save their properties during that period.
Dame said he wants to change that.
"Government should not be an impediment, and people should be allowed to pay their debts right up until the auction," he said.
"There are some hardworking people out there who are having struggles, and yes, there are some who don't do what they are supposed to do, but we work for everyone.
"We don't get to decide who we work for."
Email Joe LoTemplio: