CANTON St. Lawrence County legislators rejected paying a $3,000 bill from the village of Massena for painting a building the county has title to and indicated they will not rehabilitate foreclosed-on property beyond safety issues.
Massena Mayor James F. Hidy billed the county for work done at the Sunrise Mall without prior notification and subsequently asked the county to pay for work at 15 Cook St., a property with broken windows and an unkempt lawn, which the county took title to recently and intends to sell at auction this fall.
This raises a number of issues for us, Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said.
The county would spend a fortune if it fixed up all the properties it takes for back taxes, she said.
If we start this process, I think were in trouble, Legislator Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon, said.
The county has no legal obligation to make such repairs, county attorney Michael C. Crowe pointed out.
The county cannot sell the Sunrise Mall as its ownership is in the hands of the courts.
The county has also made Massena whole to the tune of more than $60,000 on the back taxes on the two properties and paid $10,000 for an asbestos study.
Meanwhile, the assessments have not been reduced even as the properties deteriorated, and the village failed to come after the property owners then, Legislator Donald A. Peck, R-Gouverneur, said.
Theyve had three years to do it themselves and put the cost on the tax rolls, Mr. Peck said. We shouldnt be making them whole unless they reduce the assessment.
The county could get out of the blighted property business all together, refusing to take title to property for back taxes so they can be sold, throwing parcels into limbo while villages, towns and school districts lose revenue, Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, said.
It just seems to me weve done our due diligence, he said. Theyve collected plenty of money.
In the case of 15 Cook St., Ms. St. Hilaire said she may have a crew pick up broken glass if it is dangerous.
After the building is sold at auction this fall, the village can ask the new owner to fix it, Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said.
Our goal is to put that back on the tax rolls, he said.