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County Tax Foreclosure Auction Postponed

The Chautauqua County Tax Foreclosure Auction scheduled for June has been postponed.

On Wednesday during the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. meeting, Jim Caflisch, Chautauqua County Real Property Tax Services Office director, said the auction has been delayed because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak.

Caflisch, who is also land bank board chairman, said the auction that was going to be held Saturday, June 20, won’t be held in July or August either.

“We’re looking at September. If we don’t do one in September, we probably won’t do one at all,” he said. “We will see what happens and go from there.”

Gina Paradis, land bank executive director, asked if the land bank would be able to acquire any properties from the county if there is no auction held. Typically, the land bank acquires properties available during the auction to either be redeveloped or demolished.

Caflisch said he will have a discussion with Stephen Abdella, Chautauqua County attorney, on what county officials are allowed to do with the properties that would have been available during the auction if there isn’t one this year. He said auction properties have to be made available to the public for a period of time before the land bank can acquire them.

“We don’t know enough to plan. The calendar has been turned upside down,” Caflisch said. “It’s a difficult process to figure out right now.”

In other business, Paradis told the board there was no dedicated funding source for all land banks in the 2020-2021 state budget. She said there is a new round of funding available from the state Attorney General’s Office the land bank has applied for, but hasn’t been told yet if they will receive the grant.

Paradis said land bank officials are looking into applying for some of the stimulus funding the federal government has approved following the coronavirus outbreak. She said they might be able to apply for the Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

With no funding made available to land banks through the state budget process, Paradis said land bank officials could use the possible stimulus funding to purchase properties for their rehabilitation sales program.

“We need places to sell to generate revenue,” she said. “If these loans allow us to acquire property, we should do it.”

Paradis also announced to the board that demolition work has come to a halt, unless deemed an emergency, because of the mandate from the state to stop construction projects because of the pandemic. She said the design engineering phase is moving forward for two demolitions, a commercial property in Brocton and the former Biker Bob’s along Central Avenue in Dunkirk. She added once the design work is done, bids will be accepted for the demolition work.

“We will start back up (with demolition work) when the restrictions come off,” she said.

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