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Politics and Government

Why do some tax-delinquent properties in Syracuse get put on hold?

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
The Syracuse Common Council.

Many owner-occupants of tax-delinquent properties in the city of Syracuse are getting extra time to catch up on their back taxes. But that raises some concerns from the buyer of the city’s foreclosed properties.

Every Syracuse Common Council session usually involves a decision on what action to take regarding a list of foreclosable properties in the city. At their most recent session, Councilor Susan Boyle put 11 out of 15 properties in her district on hold from foreclosure. She said most of those properties are owner-occupied and owe less than what the property is worth.    

“If they’re showing progress, if they’re in communication with us, if they’re going to workshops, if they have an application in for a tax trust that hasn’t been approved yet, I’m not about to pull the rug out from under them while they are waiting for decisions from a bank," Boyle said. "I'm working with the homeowners. I've been calling and keeping contact with people. There are people that are trying to pay it off and keep current with it. I'm not in the business of kicking people out of their homes."

And Boyle said every situation is unique. Some owners are elderly, some are hospitalized and some are waiting for a settlement.

When a property is foreclosed, it is sold to the Syracuse Land Bank. Executive Director Katelyn Wright said avoiding foreclosures and keeping people in their homes is a good thing. But she said the city’s threat of foreclosure has to seem real.

“If people think that they can get a million extensions, then they’re not going to be very responsive to the notices that they get in the mail from the finance office,” Wright said.

Wright said before the land bank, the city had millions of dollars in uncollected taxes because there was little fear of foreclosure.