Township hopes to raise $1.6M from special tax sale

Photo by Chris Sykes
The auctioneer from the Max Spann company points to the buyer who made the highest bid for one of the properties that were auctioned off on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the township’s special tax sale inside Council Chambers.

IRVINGTON, NJ — The special tax sale that took place in Council Chambers on Tuesday, Nov. 20, while Mayor Tony Vauss was conducting a free turkey giveaway, proved an even bigger success than last year’s tax sale.

“We’re expecting to raise more than $1 million with this year’s sale,” said Vauss on Wednesday, Nov. 21. “Actually, we’re looking at raising $1,629,500. We are still awaiting the redemption total from the tax department, so it will be more.”

When the township conducted a special tax sale on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, more than $800,000 in liens for 53 vacant abandoned properties were sold through a special tax lien auction conducted the Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. The same company handled this year’s special tax sale for 47 properties.

According to the mayor, “The sale was advertised in the Star-Ledger. It was also advertised in the post office, in the lobby and tax department at City Hall. It was also advertised at the court and the public library.”

Kevin Holder and the members of the More Truth Action Group won the bidding on the very last piece of property auctioned off at the sale. And even though his deal to purchase property later fell through, Holder said he was still thankful for an opportunity to invest in the township.

“We believe in Tony Vauss and his leadership,” said Holder on Tuesday, Nov. 20. “We appreciate all that he’s doing to try to rebuild the township and we, the brothers of the More Truth Action Group, believe that it’s important to invest in our local communities.”

According to Max Spann, the firm’s president and chief executive officer, one of the key differences between a special tax lien sale and a regular tax sale is the former allows the municipality to require winning bidders to renovate the property consistent with its plans and regulations. This expedites the turnaround time for the removal of abandoned properties, which are public nuisances, and helps restore property values to neighboring properties and the township as a whole. In addition, he said the Abandon Properties Rehabilitation Act allows the municipality to sell these liens at any price, as opposed to typical assignment sales, in which they’re sold only for the minimum of back taxes, interest and fines.

Through the program, Spann said bidders were required to document their qualifications to rehabilitate or otherwise use the property, consistent with township guidelines. He also credited Vauss’ leadership for “intelligently using the law to get these abandoned properties back on the tax rolls” and positioning Irvington “in the vanguard of municipalities using recent changes in tax lien sale law to help combat urban blight in their communities.”

Vauss said it’s part of his administration’s effort to make Irvington clean and safe, somewhere people want to come to live, work and play.

“The sale of the liens is the first step in a process that will allow the properties to be cleaned up and put back on the tax rolls,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Nov. 20. “We are developing strong partnerships among government and residents, businesses and visitors, to make Irvington the town we know it can and will be, as we work together. This special tax sale we held is a significant step toward bringing this dream closer to a reality.”

Vauss said, according to township guidelines, every bidder and buyer at the special tax sale had to promise to rehabilitate or redevelop their purchased properties within one year.

“A special tax sale is a sale of municipal liens attached to abandoned properties. Purchasers of special tax liens can foreclose to acquire title immediately, as opposed to waiting two years, as with a traditional sale,” said Vauss on Sunday, Nov. 25. “Through an agreement with the township, the purchaser must redevelop the property within six to 12 months after acquiring title. If they fail to do so, the township has the right of reverter and can reclaim the lien or property. Forty-seven liens were for sale on Nov. 20 and the transfer of two or three remaining liens are being finalized. Approximately $1.6 million was raised from the sale.”