A total of 147 Luzerne County properties are listed in a special April 26 back-tax auction because the owners defaulted on repayment plans, county records show.
Properties must be auctioned if taxes have gone unpaid for two years unless the owner is complying with a repayment plan, is involved in an active bankruptcy proceeding or obtains a court order.
Northeast Revenue Service LLC, the county’s tax-claim operator, has been strictly enforcing the legal requirements for repayment agreements — at least 25 percent down with the remainder of the debt paid off within a year. The law also forbids new payment plans within three years if owners default.
Before Northeast Revenue took over in 2010, the county had many properties kept out of sales, often for years, even though the owners were not keeping up with payment plans or paying at all.
The April auction is a first-stage “upset” sale, which means bidders must pay all real estate taxes owed and accept responsibility for any outstanding mortgages and liens. Unsold properties will advance to a 2019 free-and-clear auction in which liens and delinquent taxes are cleared.
The highest starting bid in the upcoming sale — $70,014 — is for a medical office building at 20 N. Main St. in Pittston owned by Santo Lafoca.
Assessed at $430,400, the property carries unpaid taxes dating to 2014.
Some other commercial and apartment properties in the upset listing along with the minimum starting bids:
• A 4,600-square-foot apartment building at 259 W. Shawnee Ave. in Plymouth owned by Wilkes-Barre-based Audi Management II LLC, $24,271.
• An 8.42-acre recycling property on Clark Road in Duryea owned by New York-based Nationwide Tire Recyclers Inc., $26,268.
• A 4,300-square-foot apartment structure at 204-206 Zerby Ave. in Edwardsville owned by Huntington Mills, Pennsylvania-based 12 Stone LLC, $19,711.
• A 3,650-square-foot apartment building at 33-37 Church St. in Edwardsville belonging to Scranton-based Audi Management LLC, $16,914.
• A 4,000-square-foot apartment building at 5 W. Turner St. in Forty Fort owned by Richard and Sharon Austin, of Sweet Valley, $20,975.
The list also includes vacant lots and a range of residential structures, from mobile homes with no land included to larger homes in more upscale developments.
Property owners can get out of the auction if they pay the portion of debt owed through 2015, Northeast Revenue said.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.