A Saratoga County tax foreclosure auction normally involves a professional auctioneer in a small auditorium at one of the county office buildings in Ballston Spa, and the kind of nose-to-nose bidding for properties — the good ones, at least — that you’d see in a country barn.
But that wouldn’t be normal in 2020.
County officials on Wednesday announced the launch of an online auction, with bids on 32 tax-foreclosed properties being taken starting now. Bidding will end between 10 a.m. and 11:29 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, with the closing times slightly different, depending on the property. The dynamic seems more likely to be Ebay than country barn.
County officials say the change is consistent with their goal of getting properties back onto the tax rolls, and will avoid the risks inherent in large in-person gatherings.
“Saratoga County has had to adopt solutions to continue operating and serving the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving to a remote property tax auction will allow us to continue conducting business, while practicing physical distancing and keep residents safe,” said Drew Jarosh, the county treasurer, who oversees the auctions.
A link to the auction list is available through the county website, saratogacountyny.gov.
“It will also make this auction more accessible to all,” he added. “We are excited about the possibilities that exist and look forward to conducting more business utilizing platforms that combine innovation and efficiency.”
Earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Supervisors approved a suggestion to utilize technology to make the auction more accessible to the public.
The county Treasurer’s Office, county attorney, Department of Real Property Tax Services, and Department of Information Technology worked together and contracted with Auctions International of East Aurora to launch the online auction portal.
Auctions International is the same company the county worked with in 2019, when it held an online auction for the former county infirmary property in Providence. The county got $55,100 for that property, in what was regarded as a successful auction.