When a property in a town or village is seized in a tax lien foreclosure, by law and by courtesy, the county ensures towns, villages and school districts receive the back taxes owed those jurisdictions.
The county also reimburses some related expenses the local jurisdiction might incur, including, up 'til now, demolition costs on condemned buildings.
But that can get expensive, so County Treasurer Scott German proposed to the Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday that the county stop guaranteeing towns and villages that demolition costs will be covered.
German is asking the legislature to pass a resolution, followed by a letter from County Attorney Charles Zambito to mayors and supervisors, declaring that the county will no longer cover the cost of demolition on tax lien foreclosed buildings.
Some costs could be covered, German said, if the property fetches more at auction than is owed in delinquent taxes, but for parcels without buildings, that rarely happens.
German told the Ways and Means Committee that, for example, on a parcel that is less than an acre, it might bring $3,000 at auction, but the demolition cost on a building might be $20,000.
The way things have been, the county ends up paying the entire bill, even though it had no part in contracting for the demolition.
"Who can blame them for going in and taking care of demolition, but it shouldn’t be a county cost," Legislator Mary Pat Hancock said.
Under state law, the county must reimburse school districts and towns for taxes owed when it forecloses on a property, and the county has provided those reimbursements to villages, even though not mandated by law.
The city takes care of its own tax lien foreclosures.