Schoharie County recouped nearly $1 million at its property auction on Saturday.
With several hundred bidders under and around a tent on Main Street, Schoharie, Treasurer Bill Cherry auctioned about 85 properties the county had taken ownership of for unpaid taxes.
Saturday's bids totaled $989,362 for the properties; the delinquent taxes on those properties came to $950,821.
"So the county netted $38,821," Mr. Cherry said.
He views the auction as a win-win because the county regains money, the properties become useful and return to the tax roll, and successful bidders generally get good deals.
Although the county took in nearly $1 million, Mr. Cherry expected to do better. He estimated several weeks ago that the properties would go for $1.6 million, with the county netting about $475,000.
However, two high-end properties were taken out of the auction because of a last-minute bankruptcy filing, and another was pulled as a result of a court order.
The estimated market value of those three properties was more than $500,000.
Of the properties that did sell, several didn't reach the heights Mr. Cherry expected:
•The NAPA building on Main Street, Middleburgh had delinquent taxes of about $44,000. It sold for $9,500.
•A well-kept commercial building on East Main, Cobleskill, had an approximate market value of $329,012. It sold for $60,000.
•The former Warnerville skating rink was assessed at $323,500. It sold for $67,000.
"It was a win for the county not to take a beating," Mr. Cherry said. "But at the same time, people got some good deals."
Bidders were looking for those deals. Mr. Cherry often began with an opening bid of $10,000 but had to drop to $5,000 or even $1,000 before hands started going up.
"People wanted bargains, and I don't blame them," Mr. Cherry said.
Some properties went for about what the back taxes were. A row building in downtown Cobleskill had back taxes of $31,241; it sold for $33,500.
A nice ranch house on North Grand Street, Cobleskill, had unpaid taxes of $62,780. The winning bid was $67,000--even though the approximate market value was $149,506.
"We had a lot of break-even properties, getting what was about owed," Mr. Cherry said. "And sometimes we lost on the larger ones and made it back on the smaller parcels."
He praised his office and the Real Property Tax Office for putting the auction together.
"And thank goodness all of these are going back on the tax rolls," Mr. Cherry said. "We're very pleased with the results, and it was a great day for bargains."