Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 30, 2013

City will pay back spurned bidder

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Common Council will be asked to amend the terms of sale of tax-foreclosed property after complaints by winning bidders in the 2012 auction who forfeited their down payments.

One bidder filed a lawsuit against the city earlier this month, seeking the return of $6,150 in down payments he made on two properties that the treasurer’s office later ruled he could not purchase, because at the time of the auction he owed city and school tax on another property in the city.

The treasurer’s office kept Daryl Ubiles’ deposits and also sold the properties to their next-highest bidders, per rules and conditions posted ahead of the city’s Oct. 23 tax foreclosure auction.

Ubiles, who owns at least four properties in the city, claimed in his suit that he did not know he was delinquent on property taxes for 422 Clinton St., a vacant lot, because he never got 2012 tax bills from the city or the school district.

Even though he paid the past due amount, $399, on Oct. 29, the very day he says he was informed of it, the treasurer’s office refused to complete the transfer of the properties, 37 Center St. and 185 N. Transit St., to him, according to the suit.

Ubiles petitioned for a court order directing the city to either let him finish buying the properties or give his money back.

Since the properties were already sold to others, the city will return a portion of Ubiles’ payments, City Attorney John Ottaviano said Tuesday. The exact portion remains to be hashed out by him and Ubiles’ attorney, he added.

In light of numerous complaints, Ottaviano said he will advise the Common Council to order a change in the city’s written terms of sale for property auction, so that winning bidders have up to 30 days after an auction to pay off past-due taxes on any property they own in the city.

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