Board of Supervisors
Two properties dodge foreclosure
Two of the three properties which sought shelter from the Livingston County tax foreclosure auction in New York State Supreme Court appear to have succeeded in their objective.
According to Livingston County Attorney David Morris, the county has ceased to pursue its appeal of the properties at 35 Barone Avenue in Mount Morris and at 2381 Clay Street in Lima.
The appeal against a third property, at 10260 Pennycook Road in Portage, is still pending, Morris confirmed.
The three properties were ordered withdrawn from the tax auction by Judge Dennis Cohen after owners petitioned the court, claiming that extenuating circumstances prohibited their payment of delinquent taxes until after the June 15 redemption deadline.
In particular, the case of Bob Leschander of 2381 Clay Street in Lima elicited a great deal of public sympathy after the County Ways & Means Committee rejected a request from a group of Leschander’s friends and advocates that the payment be accepted.
Leschander was just two days late and was delayed, he claimed, by medical issues and poor health. His property was a modest, one-room home on a small lot.
After the tax auction in July, the Board of Supervisors approved funding to appeal Cohen’s decisions before the Appellate Division Court, 4th Department, in Rochester. Four of the 17 supervisors cast dissenting votes.
Livingston County Treasurer Carolyn Taylor confirmed that the county’s appeal to reinstate the Lima foreclosure has been stopped by Leschander’s bankruptcy.
“We still have a claim, but we can’t asked for payment,” Taylor explained. “Now we will file a claim with the bankruptcy court. Many times the court will pay the back taxes. Other times, our claim can be dismissed. Every case is different.”
The court is not subject to the same rules as the property owner himself. The county will accept payment of the late taxes from the bankruptcy court, Taylor advised, because it is a federal-level entity.
If the bankruptcy court is able to muster only a fraction of the payment owed, that fractional payment will settle Leschander’s account with the county, Taylor noted.
Once a property enters bankruptcy, the foreclosure process stops dead in its tracks. “We’re not even suppose to send them a notice,” Taylor said.
Leschander’s bankruptcy does not immunize him from paying this current year’s taxes in full.
“The property owner is required to pay his post-petition taxes,” Taylor said.
The county’s appeal of the Judge’s decision protecting the Mount Morris Barone Avenue property has also been withdrawn — and the foreclosure process has been permanently stopped, Taylor confirmed. The county remains in possession of the full late tax payment on this property, which was received about a month after the June 15 redemption deadline.
Taylor made the decision to accept the payment while conferring with Cohen in judge’s chambers and at the recommendation of the county’s foreclosure counsel from Phillips Lytle, who advised avoidance of a costly trial.
The fact that Cohen subsequently used the acceptance in ruling against in county in the Lima case was one of the county’s reasons for initiating the appeals, Taylor revealed.
Taylor asserts that her office and Livingston County “have done everything properly” in processing the three contested foreclosures.