WILMINGTON -- The town did not walk away empty-handed from this year’s annual tax sale.
"We got one property," said Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy, also collector of delinquent taxes. "We’re happy it was just one."
Selectboard member Tom Fitzgerald was authorized to bid on tax delinquent properties for the town during the auction that was held on the morning of June 20.
Two days before the sale was held, the board looked over a list of properties that would be sold. Board member Susie Haughwout said the board usually looks over the list before the sale and members decide what should be picked up if it comes down to it. In most cases, the town waits for other bids before bidding itself.
The list published on May 20 included 23 properties. At that time, Murphy told the Reformer he heard from a few property owners who would be making payments before the sale.
The town in the past has taken several Haystack lots. So, it came as no surprise when the town took a Haystack lot located in Overlook Village. The property is approximately a quarter acre.
The previous property owners have a year to redeem it. Murphy says there is a substantial amount of money owed to the Cold Brook Fire District, which is separate from the town tax collection.
Eight properties were sold in total from the tax sale. Of those eight, five were land only properties.
"That’s probably slightly less than usual, which is good," said Murphy.
The properties, referred to as Haystack lots, were pieces of land originally drawn up in deeds to sell to people for a future development that never happened, Murphy told the Reformer. Typically one or two of these lots are put out to bid at the sale each year.
"There’s nothing they can do with it except give it back to the town," said Murphy. "As mandated by the town policy, our goal is to resell that so it goes back on the tax rolls."
Last year, the town was successful in doing that. It sold a two sets of lots to the Hermitage Club. The properties went back on the grand list.
The lots were in two locations. One was near the airport that was purchased and renamed the Deerfield Valley Airport.
"We were very lucky to get it off our books," said Murphy. "But that was a case of the developer who needed all of those for a large area and that doesn’t really affect one individual parcel owner."
When these lots are purchased, the new owner is often required to pay back taxes to Cold Brook Fire District. Murphy told the Reformer the fire district does not necessarily go after the property owners for payment but waits for the town to do it.
Those sales put the properties back on the grand list for annual tax payments to the town. The sales also put the properties back on the fire district’s list for payments.
During last year’s tax sale, the town acquired two other Haystack lots that were not redeemed by the deadline.
"Most likely, we will not see an individual investor come in and buy one of these solitary lots," said Murphy. "It would be a developer who wanted to buy as much as he needed to develop in that area."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.