The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


How many of you have ever wondered how Troy sells it's surplus property? Neither have we. Nonetheless, here we go.

In our previous post we took a look at two provisions allowing a municipality to sell property: General Cities Law Sec. 23 and The City Charter/Code.

Today, we'll take a quick peek at Section 83 of the Code: Surplus Property.

As you may or may not know, the City has quietly ordered the Bureau of Surplus property to declare City Hall and the parking garage 'surplus property.' The Administration is desperate to rely upon Sec. 83 for the City Hall/Verizon scheme.

§ 83-1. Purpose.

This article sets forth the procedure for management and disposal of surplus property owned by the City of Troy. The procedure is aimed at achieving the following goals:

A. To sell under terms as will provide the longest benefit to the City of Troy;
B. To sell under such circumstances as will expedite development, rehabilitation and beautification of property sold;
C. To sell under such circumstances as will inhibit the return of property to the delinquent tax list; and
D. To obtain the most advantageous price to the City.

§ 83-2. Bureau of Surplus Property. [Amended 9-5-1985]

A. Reports of the Bureau. The Bureau of Surplus Property shall review and report on its actions to the Mayor quarterly. The Mayor shall transmit such reports to the City Council.

B. Classification of property. All property owned by the City of Troy will be classified as surplus property except for property which is needed for City purposes. The City Assessor shall have the duty to circulate throughout the departments and bureaus of City government the list of surplus property to ascertain any City need for the property. Should any property be designated as needed for City purposes it will be omitted from the list of surplus property.

Section 83 is long and unusually boring, even for a municipal code provision. We will not print the entire section but if you click-on our link to Troy (over on the right), the City's website does have the Code. Or, you can go here.

The Administration's desire to use this section to legitimize it's deal with Judge is perplexing and nothing short of a tortured, mescaline-induced legal analysis would lead one to use Section 83 under the prevailing circumstance.

Property is either needed for City purposes or it isn't. If it is not needed, it can be classified as surplus. As far as we know, current City Hall is needed. Or, did the Bureau of Surplus Property draft it's report in a tent in Frear Park? The public hearing was conducted there and the Mayor works at city hall. Under what rationale can City Hall be currently classified as 'surplus?' There is no provision for declaring a property "soon to be surplus."

Even a quick read of Section 83 (and we invite the Media to do so), show that it's purpose is to manage in rem foreclosure. The procedures set forth certainly indicate that:

For Instance:

C. Management of surplus property. It shall be the duty of the Bureau of Surplus Property to manage surplus property.

(1) Where possible, inhabitable property should be rented. Uninhabitable property should be secured by the Department of Public Works to prevent damage or vandalism.

(5) A list of all tenants and rents charged and received shall be kept by the Bureau of Surplus Property. A monthly summary of receipts and delinquencies as well as copies of any requests for evictions which have been forwarded to the Corporation Counsel shall be submitted to the Comptroller on or before the 10th day of the following month.

§ 83-3. Promotion and sale of surplus property.

A. Inventory. As soon as possible after the recording of the in rem foreclosure deed, the Assessor or his/her designee shall visit each property to determine its condition and appraise each parcel at its fair market value.

(1) If the property consists of an occupied dwelling, the occupants shall be advised that they are tenants of the City and of the conditions of their tenancy.

(2) If the property consists of a vacant building, it shall be properly secured by the Department of Public Works.

C. Promotion.

(1) The Assessor shall mail letters to the last-known owners, informing them of the reconveyance program.
(2) The Assessor shall mail letters to adjacent owners of vacant land on the list and inform them of their right to buy at private sale.
(3) The list shall be circulated among City agencies, other public agencies, real estate brokers, developers and anyone else requesting such lists.

D. Newspaper advertisement. As soon as possible after the recording of the in rem deed, the Assessor shall cause an advertisement to be placed in the City's official newspaper, publishing the list of surplus property for sale and informing the general public when and where proposals will be accepted and when and where the auction will be held on property for which no proposal is accepted by the City Council. That advertisement shall be published at least one more time during the week following the first publication. Additional advertisements and promotional activity may be undertaken as deemed desirable by the Assessor.

§ 83-4. Terms of sale. [Amended 7-1-1999 by Ord. No. 10]

A. Regulated. Except for reconveyances, all sales of surplus property will be made only after the purchaser has agreed to comply with and signed a copy of the terms of sale.

B.Terms. The terms of sale shall be as follows:

(1) The property will be sold as advertised.

(2) A down payment of 10% of the purchase price will be required to be paid at the time the offer is received by the City or at the completion of bidding, if at auction.

(3) Within 30 days after the approval of the sale by the City Council, the purchaser will pay to the Bureau of Surplus Property the balance of the purchase price plus the advertising cost and payment in lieu of City, county and school taxes based on the City's appraisal prior to sale and prorated for the time prior to the first tax bill to the purchaser. Upon default of such payment, the City shall retain the down payment, which is not a penalty but liquidated damages. This period may be extended only for extenuating circumstances, as determined by the City Council no later than the second regular meeting of the Council following the default.

(4) The City Council reserves the right to reject any and all offers.

(5) In the event the City for any reason determines not to sell to the purchaser, the liability of the City of Troy and of its agents relative to the property conveyed is limited to the return of any payments made to the City of Troy, including the advertising fee.

(6) No representations of any kind are or have been made by the City of Troy or its agents as to the title or physical condition of the property or as to the existence of any improvements thereon.

(7) This sale is made subject to the condition that:

(a) If there is a structure on the premises which is able to be rehabilitated or inhabited, it shall be repaired in conformance with the building, housing and fire prevention codes within six months after the date of the deed.

(b) If there is a structure on the premises which is not able to be rehabilitated or inhabited, it shall be demolished within six months after the date of the deed.

(c) If vacant land is purchased for building purposes, a building shall be erected of such type of construction as to conform with the surrounding area and comply with building, housing and fire prevention codes within one year after the date of the deed.

(d) If vacant land is not purchased for building purposes, it must be cleaned and maintained so as not to be a nuisance or detriment to its neighborhood within six months after the date of the deed. The above-mentioned time periods for repair, demolition, maintenance or construction may be extended for up to six months by the Bureau of Surplus Property, upon submission by the property owner of a compliance plan which has been approved by the Commissioner of Planning and Community Development. Any further extensions of time may be made only by the City Council, upon request of the purchaser.

(8) The deed shall contain a clause that if the purchaser, his/her successors or assigns shall fail to comply with the appropriate conditions, the City has a right to reenter the property without refunding the purchaser price.

(9) The purchaser shall not alter, remove or otherwise change any items contained in or attached to any building or land to be purchased from the City of Troy until the full purchase price and charges are paid and the deed from the City is received by the purchaser.

Will there be compliance with these provisions, not to mention the other requirements under Section 83? Why the need to fit a lease-to-own deal into a Code section obviously designed to sell foreclosed properties? Seems like a rather involved section of the Code to use when other less complex and involved methods are available.

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