KENNEBUNK – For the first time in at least 16 years, the town plans to sell tax-acquired property, but the method of disposition and what to do with any proceeds over and above the amount owed, if any, are to be worked out.

The town of Kennebunk plans to sell three tax-acquired properties, including one at 56 Ross Road. Dan King photo

A couple of ideas were floated  by select board members Oct.  13 – like using any extra money for social service needs or an affordable housing program, but the board agreed any options need further exploration.

The three properties are vacant, select board members said, and the building on one of them, 56 Ross Road, have recently been demolished for safety reasons.

The other two tax-acquired properties the town plans to sell are at 2 Lilac Lane, and 74 Alewive Road.

Baldwin on Thursday, Oct. 15 said the board has always proceeded cautiously with respect to foreclosing on tax acquired property.

“In many cases, the property is owner occupied,” said Baldwin. In other cases, he said, the precise ownership can be questionable, and while the town could pursue a quieting of title  to  attempt to discern ownership, the process can be expensive and yield inconclusive results.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the town is seeking sources of revenue to bolster our general fund in case tax collections falter in the second half of the year,” Baldwin said of the decision to sell the three vacant properties.

Vice Chairman Wayne Berry cautioned prospective buyers do their homework.

“Any buyer should take it upon themselves to investigate (the properties),” said Berry, explaining that the town issues a quit claim deed, which releases the municipality’s interest in the property.

Baldwin said he and Berry had talked briefly about the possibilities of how the town might use any excess funds realized from the sales and noted it is the town’s to keep, “but it somehow offends my sense of right and wrong.”

He said he and others met recently with Habitat for Humanity York County and are exploring a possible partnership.

Board member Shiloh Schulte said he liked the idea of an affordable housing program.

“I’m not in favor of starting a new program. I’d have to think about it a bit more,” said board member Ed Karytko. “Any excess should go to lowering taxes in this town.”

Board members briefly discussed whether the sale method should be by auction or by bid. Ultimately, they agreed to turn the matter over to the town manager, who will craft a proposal for the disposal of the properties and bring it back to the board for a vote.

The tax foreclosure process takes several months. If taxes are unpaid eight to 12 months after the tax commitment, the owner receives a 30-day notice, followed by a tax lien certificate executed and recorded at the York County Registry of Deeds by the municipal tax collector, said Finance Director Joel Downs. If the taxes are still unpaid after 16 or 17 months, then the owner receives a notice of a pending automatic foreclosure, which takes place 18 months after the notice of tax lien.

The property at 2 Lilac Lane is valued at $168,500 and includes a 1970 house and .87 acres. In all, the town is owed $86,789, $41,260 of which is interest on the unpaid taxes, according to municipal documents.

The property at 74 Alewive Road is valued at $208,300 and includes a 1955 house on .33 acres. The town is owed $20,334, $2,324 of which is interest on the unpaid taxes.

The property at 56 Ross Road was valued at $115,800 before the buildings were demolished. It includes .74 acres. The town is owed $57,710, of which $25,479 is interest on unpaid taxes.

Baldwin said in all, Kennebunk has about 30 tax-acquired properties.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: