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Broome County Moves to Change ‘Bad Policy’

Bob Joseph/WNBF News

The chairman of the Broome County legislature says lawmakers are prepared to revise property sellback policies that have been criticized by some residents.

Jerry Marinich this afternoon announced proposed changes to the controversial policies that made it likely some people could lose their homes for back taxes even if they now were willing to pay what they owed along with penalties.

Marinich said lawmakers “must reform the bad policy” that has created several situations where property owners were on the verge of losing their homes which are to be sold at auction.

The proposed changes would allow the Director of Real Property Tax Services to consider a sellback to prior owners.

Broome County’s procedures were changed in 2010 to prohibit sellbacks after a 120-day period following the final date of redemption.

Marinich said it’s now clear that policy was “the wrong way to go” because it prohibits an owner from paying taxes if an arbitrary deadline has passed.

The legislature is expected to consider a policy that would allow a sellback to be considered based on four criteria: incompetence, lack of proper notification, catastrophic financial problems or catastrophic health issues.

Marinich said he has called for a special legislative session for five o’clock Thursday afternoon to consider the changes. A meeting of the finance and county admnistration committees is to be held before that session.

The property tax issue has received attention recently when a man who now lives in the state of Maine returned to Broome County to try to save a family home from auction.

Volodymyr Kurylo – who grew up in Binghamton – said the county wouldn’t allow him to settle the overdue tax bill, so the home where his sister and brother now live would soon be lost.

Kurylo described the Broome County policy as “cruel and unusual punishment.”

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