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Onondaga County wants to go after large, tax-delinquent properties

Onondaga County
The former Suez power plant in the Town of Geddes.

Onondaga County lawmakers are expected to decide whether the county will go after a landowner in Geddes who hasn’t paid taxes in three years.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said the Onondaga County Accountability and Reinvestment Corporation has been created to oversee properties that are at least three years behind in their taxes. And the first one the organization will target is the former Suez power plant in the Town of Geddes, which now belongs to an Ohio scrap metal company. McMahon said they owe more than $1 million in back taxes. He said if they don’t pay up, the new corporation could be able to seize the property and redevelop it for future use.

"This property has value,” McMahon said. “It has infrastructure. It has public power, and it’s by rail and there's real value there for another company if this situation gets rectified. This allows us to stop the bleeding there, and really work to redevelop it to get it in an end user that can have a sustainable business plan.”

County officials said there is $45 million that hasn’t been collected in back taxes from property owners around the county. McMahon admitted this process can take a while. Some companies go to court to fight assessments, among other things, making the process more complicated. But he added losing millions in taxpayer money is not acceptable.

"If the private owners want to get back in the game, do their jobs, pay their bills, we’re all for that,” McMahon said. “If not, we’re ready to move on strategic parcels. Many are industrial or have been industrial in the past.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.