The Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau sold 81 properties for $825,386 in Monday’s judicial sale, putting the parcels back on the tax rolls.
Area residents and investors bought tax-delinquent properties in 19 municipalities during the auction. The most real estate changed hands in Scranton, where 37 properties sold.
Covington Twp. came in second with 13 properties selling, followed by the city of Carbondale, where eight properties were purchased.
Leading up to the judicial sale, home- and landowners paid $324,436 in delinquent real estate taxes to keep another 79 properties off the auction block. All together, the venture netted about $1.15 million, department Director Ron Koldjeski said.
Money raised since Lackawanna County started holding judicial sales several years ago has become “critically important,” Chief Financial Officer Thomas Durkin said.
“But what’s more important than the revenue from the judicial sales is the fact that we do judicial sales,” Mr. Durkin said. “It tells people there are consequences to not paying, so they pay their taxes.”Collections have increased for four consecutive years, Mr. Koldjeski reported earlier this year.
Among the 652 properties initially slated for Monday’s judicial sale, Lackawanna County Court gave owners of 293 lots until next month to catch up on back taxes. On April 20, the tax claim bureau will hold another judicial sale at 10 a.m. in the courthouse for the remaining properties.
The 278 properties that did not sell Monday and whichever ones are left among the 293 properties after next month’s sale will go on the county’s repository list.
Given a more-attractive-than-usual slate of properties available in Scranton for this year’s judicial sale, Mr. Koldjeski had expected more city properties to sell Monday.
“Because they didn’t sell, it reinforces to me the need for a land bank,” Mr. Koldjeski said, referring to a proposal to create an authority that could actively promote, package or even develop lots to get them back on the tax rolls.