By DALE P. FAULKNER
Sun Staff Writer
WESTERLY — The Clarmar estate, an 18-room mansion on 3.4 acres in Watch Hill, is one of 61 properties set to be sold during a municipal tax sale next month.
Katherine L. Caito, who owns the property at 16 Yosemite Valley Road, owes $50,906 in back taxes to the town, Finance Director James Lathrop said. The property, which has an assessed value of $4.6 million, was set to be sold in a voluntary private auction in 2009, but the auction was canceled due to a lack of interested bidders.
The tax sale is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Council Chambers at Town Hall at 10 a.m. Slightly more than $450,000 in back taxes are owed to the town on the properties, Lathrop said.
The list of delinquent properties includes the former Bradford Dye plant at 460 Bradford Road. The 61-acre site with five buildings was sold by Bradford Dyeing Association to BPF Realty LLC in 2005 and has an assessed value of $1.7 million. Town records indicate the property, which most recently functioned as Bradford Printing and Finishing, is owned by BPF Realty LLC., but both BPF Realty LLC and Bradford Dyeing Association Inc. are listed by the town as taxpayers for the property and both are subject to the tax sale, Lathrop said. Nearly $100,000, the most on the list, is owed to the town for the mill, which was built in 1911.
The tax sale will be the town’s first since 2008, Lathrop said. At that time the town’s tax collection rate was 99 percent but the rate fell to 96 percent in 2012.
In the winter of 2012, when Lathrop started to review the town’s tax collection rate, there were 399 properties with taxes more than one year past due. An increased effort in fiscal 2013 resulted in the collection of $1.9 million of past due taxes. In the first four months of fiscal 2014, the town has collected $1.2 million in overdue taxes.
The town has entered into close to 100 payment plans with the owners of properties that are behind. The plans require that owners get current on their taxes in no more than 18 months.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody but everybody has to pay their fair share,” Lathrop said.
On the day of the sale, winning bidders will be required to pay the amount of overdue taxes and any other outstanding fees, such as water and sewer bills, due to the town. The properties will initially be offered at 100 percent ownership. Bidders have the right to continue to bid against each other by reducing the ownership percentage. The auctioneer will award tax deeds to those who offer the lowest possible percentage of ownership and the full amount owed to the town.
The original owners have up to one year from the day of the tax sale to redeem their properties by paying the overdue taxes and penalties to the winning bidder at the sale. In many cases, the bidders enter into these transactions as an investment, aiming to collect the penalties and any interest that may be due.
A list of the 61 properties in the tax sale is published in today’s edition of The Sun. Owners can pay their overdue taxes or enter into plans with the town up until the day of the sale. Updated lists will be posted on the town’s website each Friday after 4 p.m.