August 11, 2011
By Michael P. Buffer (Staff Writer)
WILKES-BARRE - Northeast Revenue Services LLC, Luzerne County's provider of tax-claim services, sold 161 properties Wednesday at a "free-and-clear" sale for a total of more than $1.3 million, according to the company's preliminary review of sales.
The properties up for sale Wednesday were not bought at a previous upset sale of properties with delinquent taxes and were available "free and clear" of liens, taxes and debts owed. Bidding at an upset sale starts with the amount owed in taxes, fees and liens, and a buyer at that sale is responsible for all delinquent taxes, debts and liens tied to a property.
The minimum bid at the "free-and-clear" sale was only for legal and administrative costs and was less than $1,000 for each property. More than 400 properties were up for sale.
Northeast Revenue provided number cards for 235 bidders, who registered for the sale, and hundreds of people packed the jury selection room in the county courthouse for the sale, which lasted more than four hours Wednesday.
The biggest single purchase involved a $77,000 bid for a Plains Township property at 1534 Route 315. Dr. Bassam Bittar, a pediatrician from Hazleton, topped several other bidders interested in the property.
The commercial property consists of 0.82 acres and has an assessed value for taxes of $446,400, records show. A building on the property has 3,378 square feet in space.
Michael J. and Monica Kizis were listed as owners of the property. They owed $30,009.62 in unpaid taxes and fees that dated back to 2008.
Taxpayers or mortgage holders had until Tuesday to pay off delinquent tax amounts in full to get properties removed from Wednesday's sale. Northeast Revenue will divide the money collected from Wednesday's sale to various taxing bodies - the county, municipalities and school districts.
Another commercial property in Plains Township drew interest from bidders. Attorney David Schwager had the top bid at $47,000 to acquire the property at 100 Second St. for a company named 100 Second St. Properties LLC.
The property has an assessed value of $229,000 and consists of 3.78 acres. An office building on the property has 2,760 square feet, and a garage consists of 3,960 square feet, records show.
Robert J. Birk Jr. and Joyce Birk were owners of the property and owed $27,239.26 in unpaid taxes dating back to 2007.
The city of Wilkes-Barre, through Assistant City Attorney William Vinsko, had the high bid at $14,000 for a commercial property at Northampton and South Main streets. Two other bidders were interested but didn't want top $14,000.
The building at 73-75 S. Main St. consists of 3,018 square feet for a restaurant and 5,831 square feet in office space. RCMP LLC owned the property and owed $286,889.48 in unpaid taxes and fees dating back to 1992.
"We just wanted to make sure that we can continue to work toward rehabbing blighted properties throughout the city, and this is one of them," Vinsko said. "We want to secure the building, and the mayor will make his decision as to how he would like to proceed."
The city could sell, develop or rehab the property, Vinsko said. If the city decides to sell the building, it would be advertised, he said.
Several bidders were very interested in a residential property in Kingston at 343 Chestnut St. Ronald Tirko of Courtdale bought the property for $27,000.
The property has an assessed value of $94,300. It consists of 0.11 acres and has 2,344 square feet in residential space.
Eugene and Christina Tomashosky were the owners, and they owed $7,402.52 in unpaid taxes that dated back to 2008.
Andrew Staub, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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