Pittsfield Auctions Off 54 Tax Liens for $667,000

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The city held an auction Tuesday afternoon for tax title liens.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city has recouped about 20 percent of the back taxes owed through the process of auctioning off tax title liens.
The effort culminated with $667,000 being sold at auction Tuesday afternoon. Since February when the auction was announced, some $1.2 million in back taxes were paid by the property owners, according to Director of Finance and Administration Susan Carmel.
"It was a very successful day," Carmel said Tuesday night.
Strategic Auction Alliance was hired to perform the auction. The city took a new tactic this year by selling the liens — or the debt — itself rather than taking the properties.
While that triggered many owners to pay what they owe, it also led to Tuesday's auction in which seven bidders bought the debt and the rights to collect for 54 properties.
Tallase Adams Lincoln LLC. from Boston led the charge with the purchase of 46 liens totaling $486,513. 
"We will be planning to do it again anywhere from six months to a year from now," Carmel said.
The city was owed about $10 million in back taxes and between the owners paying their debt and the auction, almost $2 million of that was recouped. Carmel said that is about how much the auctioneers expected. 
Private companies and individuals had the right to bid on the liens. The bidders had to put $15,000 down to be considered a serious bidder, Carmel said. Now, those successful bidders will pay the city what the winning bid was, which ranged depending on the amount owed and the property, and then they own the debt. 
The property owners now have to pay those back taxes to the winning bidder instead of the city. The new owners of that debt also have the right to foreclose on the properties should they want.
In the past, the city had gone through the typical tax taking process. In that system, the city takes the property from the owner and then auctions it off or keeps it for another use. The winning bidder of any property auction is then responsible for the back taxes. That system is a much lengthier process for the city to recoup and taxes.
This year, Pittsfield followed in the footsteps of places like Worcester and Springfield to sell the debt instead. The process was crafted into law in 2004 and some communities have found it successful.
Not all of the properties on the auction block were sold, however, so the city will still need to go through the tax title process to take ownership of those lands.

Tags: tax auction,   tax taking,   

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Gotta Dance, Gotta Sing: There's Both This Week on Local Stages

By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column

Downtown Pittsfield Third Thursdays — TL Collective

Each third Thursday of the month, streets are closed in downtown Pittsfield and all kinds of music rocks the city. Featured June 20 at 6 p.m. in the Dance Zone at the north end of the street festival is TL Collective, the athletic, family-friendly contemporary and hip-hop moves of Micaela Taylor's company. The group performs an evening length work "Drift." The aim, according to organizers, is to "demonstrate an individual's ever-changing relationship to self while exposing a personal season of self-growth."

You can find the dance zone near the corner of Bradford and North Streets in front of St. Joseph’s Church.  This program is a presentation of the Berkshires stalwart Jacob's Pillow.


Jacob's Pillow

Ballet BC is coming to Jacob's Pillow this week.

At the Pillow's expansive home in Becket, the featured company in the Ted Shawn Theater this week is Ballet BC, which is celebrating 10 years under the innovative leadership of artistic director and former company member Emily Molnar.

"Truly contemporary" is how one reviewer described the Vancouver-based troupe. On the bill this week is Molnar's most recent work "To this day," along with the U.S. premiere of "Bedroom Folk." The latter work originated with the Nederlands Dans Theater and was created by Israeli collaborators Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, among others.

This program runs Wednesday, June 19, through Sunday, June 23, at 8 p.m.,  with matinees on Saturday and Sunday in addition to evenings.

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